The Raiders have one of the strongest — if not the strongest — interior offensive in the NFL, but in the last few weeks we've seen the right tackle position grow thin. This past offseason the team drafted rookie tackle Brandon Parker in the third round, and signed veteran right tackle Breno Giacomini in free agency, but both have been sidelined for much of training camp.
First-round selection Kolton Miller has been tasked with stepping in at left tackle with Pro Bowler Donald Penn rehabbing, and he's done a fine job, getting reps against defensive end Bruce Irvin every day. While Miller seems to be a natural fit on the left side, finding someone to fill in at right tackle, however, has been interesting, but it seems as though offensive line coach Tom Cable has found someone to fill the void.
Over the last year, the Raiders have had an on and off relationship with guard/center/tackle Ian Silberman, but he may finally be here to stay. Silberman has played in one career game, and that came back in 2015 as a member of the San Francisco 49ers, but he's had stints with both the Raiders and New England Patriots. Friday night against the Detroit Lions, Silberman started at right tackle, and provided some quality snaps against the opposition, which Head Coach Jon Gruden commented on following practice Monday afternoon.
"I give him credit. He's played a lot of positions for us," he said. "[Breno] Giacomini is hurt. Brandon Parker is hurt. We needed somebody to come in and step up and he did that. I think he got edged one time on a pass set, but other than that he did a good job. I said it a couple of times here, you can only keep so many lineman and you can only have so many linemen available on gameday. He's going to have to play emergency tight end. He's going to have to play emergency guard and tackle. Right now he's answered the bell in those areas."
Silberman is easing himself into the role of a reliable utility player, and it's for that reason he's been able to contribute in so many difference facets of the game. Part of his success stems from his work with Cable, who Gruden classifies as one of the best teachers of the game.
"That's what Cable does. That's what Cable does," Gruden said in reference to Cable's ability to develop players. "He's going to find five Cable guys, that's what I called them. Right tackle goes down, somebody steps up. If you look around the league last year, there's one team, only one team that had all their starters available for all 16 games and that was the Rams. I mean my brother had 20 different combinations. It's ridiculous. So get used to it. We have to get some versatility. We have to be able to adapt on who's up, who's down. That's why Tom Cable is here. He's a great line coach."
The Silver and Black need the offensive line to stay healthy, first and foremost, to protect franchise quarterback Derek Carr. Fortunately for No. 4, the interior line will continue to serve as the bruising, violent core they've always been, but we'll see how the tackle positions hold up going forward. For now, Silberman is holding his own, and he's establishing himself as a valuable asset on this team.