Raiders C Stefen Wisniewski returns to practice Wednesday
In Wisniewski absence, the Raiders did some shuffling along the offensive line, first moving Andre Gurode over at center – which in turn led to Lucas Nix being elevated to the starting role at left guard while he was still dealing with a an ankle injury. But the Raiders’ health across the offensive line was further depleted after Gurode went down with a knee injury in the 24-7 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. At that point, the Raiders took some drastic measures and moved right guard Mike Brisiel over to center, while undrafted rookie Lamar Mady took the start at right guard.
But now the Raiders could get some stability across the offensive line, with their starting center and right guard possibly returning to their original this week. Even though Wisniewski practiced on limited basis, Raiders coach Dennis Allen said the third-year pro moved around pretty good. Allen remains optimistic that at the current pace, Wisniewski might be ready to go Sunday against the Steelers – which will be a huge up lift for a Raiders offensive line that allowing ten sacks against the Chiefs during his absence.
“I think that’s huge,” Allen said during his Wednesday talk with the media. “I think what he means to our offensive line, the type of player he is, his intelligence level, helps us with a lot of the communication, not only in protective schemes, but also in the run game.
“Communication is going to be critical against this defense and making sure we can identify where the rushers are coming from,” Allen continued. “Wiz has done a great job of that for us all year long, so it’s good to have him back out there.”
The 24-year-old Wisniewski was initially told that the injury could keep him out for 3-4 weeks, and so far he seems on pace with that timetable. Wisniewski is anxious to get back on the field after he missed nine consecutive practices and was unable to help or support or change the outcome of the Raiders’ past two games in which their offensive line was porous at best.
“It hurts,” Wisniewski said. “That San Diego game was a big-time game, nighttime game, those are really fun ones. And that Chief game, I was sitting on my couch, watching on TV, that hurts. So I’m really excited I’ve got a good chance to be back.”
The Raiders could also have their starting right tackle back soon, with Tony Pashos working on the sidelines with a team athletic trainer on Wednesday. Although Pashos – who missed last week with a groin injury – did not practice with the team, it was still an encouraging sign seeing how Wisniewski was also practicing on the sidelines this Monday.
As for the remaining injured offensive lineman, Gurode and left tackle Menelik Watson (calf) did not practice on Wednesday, which does not make their prognosis good for Sunday. Left tackle Jared Veldheer (torn triceps) is not eligible to return from partial season IR until next week.
Also missing Wednesday’s practice were strong safety Tyvon Branch (ankle) and linebacker Kaluka Maiava (hamstring). Meanwhile, cornerback Tracy Porter was limited in practice.