Offensive tackle Khalif Barnes is entering his sixth season in the NFL and his second with the Raiders. AP Photo.
One year ago today, The Oakland Raiders signed veteran free agent offensive tackle Khalif Barnes. His stint with the Raiders got off to a promising start until an ankle injury in training camp derailed his efforts to become a full-time starter.
One year later, Barnes has re-signed with the Raiders and is working alongside his teammates in the weight room as the off-season workout program has gotten underway.
Barnes spent four years with the Jacksonville Jaguars and played in 60 games with 57 starts. He appeared in six games with two starts for the Raiders in 2009. He is hoping to put last year in his rear-view mirror and use this season as a fresh start.
Raiders.com: Why did you decide to re-sign with the Raiders?
Barnes: Because I got another fresh start here. When I came here last year I had the whole injury deal and I was in there at the right tackle. But I felt coming here, I had a fresh start and if I was going to come in at right tackle then I can come in and do it now and work until the season. I just like the group of guys that is here. It's a good group of guys and you can't find that in a lot of places. I'm just happy to get a fresh, clean start and have a good, clean year and after that we'll just see what happens. So, I'm just excited to come back and play ball.
Raiders.com: What do you think your role will be this year?
Barnes: I really don't know what spots I'll be playing in. Last year, I was playing a little bit of guard here and there. I'd prefer to be at one of the tackle spots. I'm in the same boat as everybody else. We're all here together and we just want to put the best five out there. I'm just keeping everything open and looking to be out there with a good, competitive group of guys.
Raiders.com: You get to block for some dynamic running backs. It all starts up front right? What do you guys need to do to get the running game going?
Barnes: Real dynamic and explosive in the backfield. Those guys feed off us and we feed off them. There's nothing better to a lineman when you block a guy and your running back hits the crease for 10 or 15 yards, because you know it's possible at any given time that those guys will go 30, 40 or 50. So a big block, they're happy with it…a good run, we're happy with it. It's a very important relationship.
Raiders.com: When you're leaning on those defensive linemen, do you feel it? Do you know as the game goes on that the backs can rip off some chunks of yardage?
Barnes: You feel like at the beginning of the game there are a lot of emotions on both sides so there is a lot of hitting and a lot of sparring. As the 2nd quarter comes and the 3rd quarter comes, you're just wearing on them and then the five yards becomes the seven, and the seven yards becomes the 10 and the 10 yards becomes a break for the touchdown. Then you get the ball again and then all of a sudden you get to the 4-minute drill and you get a chance to run the ball out and two first downs and you're done. You thrive on that, you want that and we'd rather have us play 70-80 snaps and have our defense play 50 or 60 snaps, and just wear the defense out. If their defense is on the field for 90 snaps, I guarantee you they'll be feeling it. It'll be harder for them to make tackles. That's what we're aiming for [in the running game].