Originally written on 60 Max Power O  |  Last updated 11/20/14

When the Oakland Raiders started their offseason activities everyone believed Stefen Wisniewski would win the starting job because he started all 16 games last season at guard. The plan was to shift Wisniewski inside to center after the team signed Mike Brisiel to start at right guard. An offseason shoulder surgery followed by a calf injury early in preseason has halted Wisniewski's development. Alex Parsons filled in during OTAs and training camp and got the start in week one.

“When you come into it, and the fact that Wisniewski had played a lot last year, we kind of figured that he would be a guy we could count on,” Raiders head coach Dennis Allen said. “Then with the injury coming into OTAs and mini-camps and then the calf injury in the preseason, it kind of set him back a little bit. So it’s been a process trying to get him back. But also, Alex has functioned well at the center position. We like competition. We look for competition because it makes all of us better.”

Parsons was an undrafted free agent out of USC signed by the Raiders and spent last season on their practice squad. Both Wisniewski, at Penn State, and Parsons played guard in college, with Wisniewski seeing some time at center. Even with Wisniewski back practicing, Parsons has played well enough to hang onto the starting role for now.

“We haven’t made that decision yet,” Allen said of who will start at center. “Both of them have gotten reps so we’re going to watch them again tomorrow at practice and then we’ll make a decision.”

In new offensive coordinator Greg Knapp's zone blocking scheme, he puts a tremendous importance on the center to call out audibles, protections, and targeting in the running game.

“They both are the same age and really experience at center in the NFL,” Knapp said. “So because of that we’re getting a feel for who is moving faster, who is understanding the scheme faster. I mentioned this to you guys earlier, we really put a burden on our centers in the run game to target us right. They do the audibling if you will, so we don’t have to audible as a quarterback to change plays out. We’re getting a little bit of a growth going on with those two guys at that position, along with the ability to play center. It’s very equal.”

 

Be sure to check out other great articles at Sports Media 101.

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