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Raiders facing big decisions on offensive line as cuts loom

One of the biggest issues facing the Raiders during training camp has been an unsettled offensive line.

At right tackle, four players have been competing for the starting job, and both right and left guard have featured various players auditioning for starting roles.

While the Raiders are closer today to finalizing a starting five and the four or five players behind them, to say it is a done deal would be presumptuous.

“There will be no big announcements today on that,” Raiders coach Josh McDaniels said on Saturday, a day after his club wrapped up the preseason and training camp. “There’s a lot to sort through.”

And not a whole lot of time to whittle their way through it.

The Raiders have until 1 p.m. Tuesday to decide on their 53-man roster — they currently have 80 players — and soon after they will have to make decisions on who is starting at what positions ahead of their season opener on Sept. 11 against the Chargers.

At this point, only Kolton Miller at left tackle and Andre James at center are in the starting lineup. Dylan Parham, John Simpson and Lester Cotton are in the running at both guard spots, and Jermaine Eluemunor, Alex Leatherwood, Thayer Munford and Brandon Parker are the contenders at right tackle.

Jackson Barton and whoever doesn’t land the starting right tackle position are candidates to be the swing tackle. “We feel like we do have some quality there,” McDaniels said.

Nevertheless, the offensive line was a mix of good and not-so-good during camp and preseason, and there remains the distinct possibility the Raiders will look outside their building to shore up some spots.

“We have a lot of things to discuss in the next so many days,” McDaniels said.

Leatherwood, the 17th overall pick in last year’s draft, remains an enigma. His inability to state a case for himself leaves him vulnerable. Everything is on the table, including the drastic measure of outright cutting him.

McDaniels said Leatherwood remains in the mix, but also added the Raiders believe they have quality options at his position. That leaves his spot on the roster in doubt.

“Having tough decisions to make because you feel like you’ve got a lot of guys competing for them is a good problem to have,” McDaniels said.

Further complicating the process are injuries to Parker and Munford that limited Parker to just one preseason game and Munford to two.

Parker is a candidate to start the season on the injured reserve list, but the Raiders are holding out hope he can return at some point during the season. To preserve his eligibility, he would have to be part of the 53-man roster by Tuesday’s deadline and then put on retrievable injured reserve soon after.

That means the Raiders would have to put someone on waivers they actually covet and hope they clear the waiver process in order to be re-signed to the roster once Parker is added to I.R.

In other words, preserving Parker’s eligibility could mean losing a player they believe worthy of a roster spot.

The extent of Munford’s injury has not been disclosed, although the hope is he doesn’t need to spend time on the injured list to start the season. When healthy, Munford is firmly in the running for a starting job.

Meanwhile, the Raiders have to sort through the multiple options they have at both guard spots after mixing and matching at those positions throughout camp and the preseason.

At some point, though, they have to make a final call.

“This is the part of the year where some of those decisions are going to have to settle in here,” McDaniels said. “We have a lot of tape to digest.”

Contact Vincent Bonsignore at vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on Twitter.

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