The Oakland Raiders have had their offensive line fully healthy together just a handful of times in 2019.
First, Gabe Jackson suffered a knee injury during training camp, which kept him out for nearly the first half of the regular season. Then, Trent Brown began suffering from a pectoral issue, which ended his season prematurely as well.
The Silver and Black have been forced to plug and play several linemen this year, who have stepped up when called upon; however, right tackle Brandon Parker took his lumps this weekend against the Los Angeles Chargers. The former third-round pick was going up against some of the best pass rushers in the NFL in place of Brown,and the coaching staff decided to make a switch mid-game and let David Sharpe see some reps.
"He did okay," Coach Gruden said when asked about Sharpe's performance. "He was in a tough spot. We asked him to be a tight end going into the game to give us a different look in the play action passing game and in the running game certainly. He's not a great route runner yet. (laughter) But Brandon Parker struggled, and we made a change, and right now the ball is in Sharpe's corner. We plan on starting Sharpe. He deserves it, he did some good things as the game unfolded."
The Raiders' 24-17 win over the Los Angeles Chargers was the eighth game Sharpe has played in this year, and he's played well when asked to step in. Derek Carr was sacked three times against the Chargers, but each of the sacks came prior to Sharpe moving to the tackle position.
Whether it's been along the offensive line, the linebackers, or any position group for that matter, the Raiders have adapted to the curveballs that have been thrown their way – and there have been a lot.
It's no secret that when Carr is given ample time in the pocket he's able to make plays, and Sharpe is the best available option for the time being to anchor the right side. He was originally drafted as a left tackle, but offensive line coach Tom Cable has morphed Sharpe into one of the more versatile players on the team, and No. 72 is an important cog in the offense.
For the final game of the regular season, the Raiders will give Sharpe the nod over Parker at right tackle, and hope that he can fend off Von Miller and Co., this Sunday in Denver.