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Raiders’ trade means more tinkering on offensive line

Updated September 21, 2022 - 6:23 pm

Rather than scaling back on their rotation at right tackle, where Jermaine Eluemunor and Thayer Munford have shared game-day snaps, the Raiders are potentially adding to it.

The club traded for Patriots tackle Justin Herron on Wednesday, and while the initial objective is for Herron to provide depth to an offensive line still under construction, the former Wake Forest standout could push for a starting job.

The addition of Herron, 26, sends one of two messages: Either the Raiders aren’t happy with their depth at tackle, or they aren’t satisfied with their starting options at right tackle.

Eluemunor has started the first two games at right tackle, but in an unusual move, the Raiders have used a rotation, with Eluemunor sharing snaps with Munford, a rookie from Ohio State.

Eluemunor is no different from any other player in wanting to be the clear starter, but he also understands it is on him to earn that distinction.

“In order for it to come to an end, or for it to stop, then you have to show you’re the guy,” Eluemunor said.

It sounds as if the coaching staff is waiting for that to happen. At that point, the Raiders will turn to a set group of five.

“If it’s clear that it’s definitely better to go one way or another, then I think you would do that,” coach Josh McDaniels said.

Eluemunor concedes he didn’t help himself by playing a game he described as “unexcusable” against the Cardinals on Sunday after delivering a solid performance in the season opener against the Chargers.

“I didn’t think that I put my best foot forward,” Eluemunor said. “Just some things I wish I could get back.”

As the competition continues, McDaniels doesn’t sound like a coach in any rush to make a final call.

“Sometimes when you say that there’s this imaginary date at the end of training camp that you have to stop everything and say ‘we’re done competing,’ you do yourself a disservice. You do some of the players a disservice, because we still compete in practice,” he said. “I think all those guys that have rolled in there have certainly earned it. It wasn’t just given to them. We’ll continue to evaluate that and stress the competition.”

Into that competition steps Herron, whom the Raiders acquired from the Patriots in a swap of 2024 draft picks. The Raiders get Herron and a 2024 seventh-round pick while sending a 2024 sixth-round pick to the Patriots.

The trade reunites Herron with familiar faces, many of whom were advocates of the Patriots selecting the 6-foot-5-inch, 305-pounder in the sixth round of the 2020 draft.

Raiders general manager Dave Ziegler worked in the Patriots’ front office when Herron was drafted, and McDaniels, offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi and offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo were on the coaching staff during Herron’s first two seasons.

“A guy that we have some familiarity with,” McDaniels said. “He’s played tackle in many games. Has some versatility. A young player that’s continuing to develop.”

In his first two seasons in New England, with McDaniels as his offensive coordinator, Herron made 28 appearances, including 10 starts, at right and left tackle. He has allowed six sacks, 19 quarterback hurries and 29 quarterback pressures in 410 career snaps.

Herron hasn’t played a down this season.

“We’ll let him come in here and compete, acclimate to what we are doing and see where it goes,” McDaniels said.

Eluemunor said he won’t overthink the move.

“I’m going on year six,” he said. “If I let something like that affect me mentally, then I don’t deserve to be in the spot I’m in.”

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

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