ALAMEDA, Calif. — Starting left guard Richie Incognito would only have to move over a few feet to his right. The bigger adjustment would be in his head.
That is if, as expected, he is pressed into duty at center for the Raiders on Sunday.
“Center is a lot more cerebral,” Incognito said after taking reps there during Wednesday’s practice. You have to be concerned with getting everyone else lined up correctly, he said, “where at guard … , you can just be physical and get off the ball. Center you have a lot more on you pre-snap.
“36 years old playing a new position. I love it.”
Incognito is being called upon this week to play the position as both centers on the roster deal with ankle injuries. Rodney Hudson left Sunday’s game against the Texans in the first quarter, pressing rookie Andre James into action the rest of the way.
James also sustained an ankle injury during the game. Neither practiced on Wednesday and coach Jon Gruden was uncertain of their status for Sunday’s home game against the Lions.
“Incognito can be the center,” coach Jon Gruden said. “He’s a great player. He can play center and Denzelle Good can play (left) guard.”
Incognito practiced some shotgun snaps on the sideline with backup quarterback Mike Glennon in Houston on Sunday just in case he was needed. He had to call on experience from nearly a decade ago, the last time he played the position in emergency duty for the Miami Dolphins.
“I don’t mind center,” he said. “It’s something that comes naturally to me. … I embrace the challenge. I’ll hold down the position until one of these guys comes back.”
Incognito said there were no mishandled exchanges on Wednesday, an encouraging sign. The same applied to newcomer Erik Magnuson, who the Raiders signed off the Bills practice squad Wednesday for depth at the position.
“Smart guy,” Gruden said of Incognito. “He played multiple positions at Michigan and he’s played some games (at center) in the NFL.”
Regardless of who is available, the Raiders have confidence in their offensive line. Sunday marked the first time all season the projected starters were all in the lineup. That lasted less than a quarter before Hudson went down.
They’ve still been able to perform adequately, with the unit placing No. 16 in the league, according to Pro Football Focus’s midseason offensive line rankings.
“We just want to get some continuity,” Gruden said. “The only guy to start every game has been (left tackle) Kolton Miller. We’ve had three different left guards, three different right guards and three different tackles and now potentially three different centers.”
Incognito missed the first two games of the year due to a league suspension. He said he’s excited to play his first home game as a member of the Raiders regardless of which position he lines up at on Sunday.
The last time he played a game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum was as a member of the Buffalo Bills in 2016.
“I remember we scored a touchdown down in the Black Hole,” he said with a laugh. “I went over and grabbed (running back Mike Gillislee) to celebrate and everything was getting launched at us from the stands. Bottles, hats, everything. It felt good back then putting it on the Black Hole. But now we want to play well for them and score a bunch of points to get them rowdy.
“I just love the Black Hole and everything it’s about. This fan base is something special.”
Quarterback Derek Carr is also happy to be returning home. He said he’ll be fine with whoever is snapping him the ball on Sunday, though he hopes everyone is available for the game.
“Richie’s done it before and he did a little bit today, but we’ll see. We plan on hopefully having all of them,” Carr said, adding he’s unconcerned about the exchanges. “It’s really just repetition. Going though a practice to see how do they step on a certain play and things like that. I’ve taken my fair share of snaps with a lot of guys, so I’m very comfortable with that.”