Tony Bergstrom Poised To Make First Start In Nearly Three Seasons Against Vikings

Center Rodney Hudson is doubtful for Sunday's contest against the Minnesota Vikings at O.co Coliseum, so if he were unable to go, the next man up would be veteran lineman Tony Bergstrom.

Although Bergstrom's may not be a familiar name, he has spent his entire career in Silver and Black, originally selected in the third round (No. 95 overall) of the 2012 NFL Draft as General Manager Reggie McKenzie's first pick.

After appearing in nine games his rookie campaign, Bergstrom missed the entirety of 2013 due to foot injury.

He then spent the entire 2014 campaign on the active roster, although he did not suit up for a game and was designated a healthy inactive for all 16 contests last season.

However, Head Coach Jack Del Rio and his staff gave the University of Utah-product's career a new lease on life this offseason, moving him to center full-time where he eventually earned the backup job in training camp.

"I think [offensive line coach] Mike [Tice] has done a great job with the whole line," said Head Coach Jack Del Rio. "I mean the whole group, they work hard every day. Tony has been a big part of that from Day 1. He's worked hard, understands our system very well. We like our group… We expect them to step in and play well for us if need be."

Now, with Hudson presumably sidelined for today's game against the Vikings, Bergstrom will likely get his first start in nearly three years.

"This week actually getting all the reps has kind of been nice, been a little different, but as far as the film and everything, pretty much the same as every other week." Berstrom said of his preparation. "I've always kind of prepared as though I'm the starter, whether I'm playing, whether I'm on IR, whatever it is, because that's how you get better in this league."

Through the first half of the season, Hudson has been praised by both analysts and quarterback Derek Carr alike for his intimate knowledge of protections and putting the Raiders offense in a position to thrive – a responsibility that now falls to Bergstrom.

"Derek's obviously been very helpful," Bergstrom said. "Derek's very protection-conscious. As any quarterback should, I think he wants to know where he's hot; he wants to know all the protections. He's a part of all our protection meetings, so he's definitely taken an interest in that all year. He's done a great job transitioning from Rodney to me, so he's done a great job with that."

Both Head Coach Del Rio and Carr have continuously praised the versatility and depth of the Raiders offensive line all season, and that depth will have to full on display today against a stout Vikings defensive line, particularly from Bergstrom.

"They have a lot of talent on the inside," Bergstrom said. "Those guys can be game wreckers if you let them. We're obviously trying to make sure we take care of those guys and we've got some big dudes on the inside too with Gabe [Jackson] and J'Marcus [Webb]. It'll be a good test for us, very good test."

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