Jake Grove and Robert Gallery were drafted in 2004 to be the foundation of the Raiders' offensive line.
After a few false starts, figuratively and literally, Gallery has found a home at left guard. No, he won't be the Pro Bowl left tackle the Raiders envisioned when he was the second overall pick in 2004.
This is the year for Jake Grove to emerge as a consistent performer on the offensive line at center.
Grove's strengths were said to be his athleticism and sound technique, both of which make him an ideal fit for the zone-blocking scheme offensive line coach Tom Cable teaches.
His weakness was a lack of strength that made it difficult for him to deal with large nose tackles. That's a big reason Grove didn't beat out Jeremy Newberry for the starting job last year.
Grove missed much of last season with a knee injury and wasn't taking part in the offseason workouts on the field. But any strength concerns appear to be alleviated.
Grove is noticeably bigger in the upper body, thanks to new strength and conditioning coach Brad Roll.
And Grove should be motivated in camp.
Newberry is gone, but the Raiders brought in another veteran center in the offseason, former Tampa Bay starter John Wade. There's also Chris Morris on the roster.
But I like Grove's chances. He played well in place of Newberry last year. And it looks like he's strong enough to handle the challenge.
Offensive line preview
C Jesse Boone: Spent all of 2007 on the practice squad, sucker punched by Warren Sapp after a training camp scrape last year.
Grove: Played in a career-low seven game last year with only two starts.
Morris: Not really big or strong so he might be a perfect fit in the system.
Wade: Started all 16 games for Tampa Bay the last three years.
G Cooper Carlisle: Probably the most consistent of the returning linemen.
Gallery: Team likes his mean streak, but wants to see him cut down on his penalties.
G Brandon Rodd: Undrafted rookie will probably handle scout team work and hope to make the practice squad.
T Cornell Green: Started 10 games before an injury ended his season. Had only eight starts his entire career before joining the Raiders. He needs to cut down on the false start penalties.
T: Kwame Harris: Free agency brought the oft-maligned former 49er across the Bay. He's expected to be the starting left tackle, so he and Gallery can share stories of being labeled busts during their careers while changing position coaches regularly. The idea of playing for Cable helped lure Harris, who Gallery would surely vouch for. If anyone can get the best out of Harris, it's Cable.
T Mario Henderson: Lane Kiffin said Henderson isn't physical. It's also been said he struggles with his confidence. He and Green will battle for the starting right tackle job and will need to fix both of those issues to win the job.
T Paul McQuistan: Filled in at right tackle for Green last year, but the Raiders appear intent on giving Henderson every chance to win the job from Green. McQuistan can also play guard.
T Seth Wand: Signed last year to add depth after Green went down. He'll be in a fight to make the team.
T Mark Wilson: Spent most of last season on the practice squad before being elevated for the season finale. If he can play both tackle spots, that would enhance his chances of making the team.