When will the Raiders' massive, and expensive, O-line get back together?

Denzelle Good has spent time filling in at left guard and right tackle as the Raiders' offensive line shuffles due to injuries and COVID. David Richard/AP

HENDERSON, Nev. -- A first-round pick, No. 15 overall, was used on left tackle in Kolton Miller in 2018.

Richie Incognito was initially coaxed out of retirement to play left guard by a one-year "prove-it" deal in the spring of 2019 before earning a two-year, $14 million extension with $6.365 million in guarantees last winter.

Rodney Hudson's three-year, $33.4 million extension with $24.4 million guaranteed in the summer of 2019 made him the highest-paid center in the game in terms of average annual pay at $11.13 million.

Gabe Jackson, a third-round draft pick in 2014, received a five-year, $56 million extension in 2017, with $26 million guaranteed, after moving to right guard from left guard.

And Trent Brown? All the right tackle did was break the bank by becoming the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history, courtesy of his four-year, $66 million free-agent contract with $36.75 million guaranteed in the spring of 2019.

Yeah, the Las Vegas Raiders have invested heavily in their offensive line. It is an impressive and imposing group ... when on the field. And that's something that has not happened much. Because after starting just five games together as a unit last season, the Raiders' expensive and much-ballyhooed O-line has played just three snaps together this season.

Three. Snaps.

"Yeah, it's been tough," Raiders coach Jon Gruden acknowledged. "We've had a lot of adversity. With Tyrell Williams, a guy we thought was going to be a big part of our offense going down. The Antonio Brown thing didn't work out. Right now, Incognito and ... Trent Brown, are out of the ball game. It's tough. It's disappointing, but it's an opportunity to keep digging, keep grinding, keep developing and finding ways to win."

Indeed, it appeared as though the Raiders might be getting the band back together sooner rather than later, with the 37-year-old Incognito making progress from the Achilles' injury that sidelined him in Week 2, and Brown -- who re-aggravated a calf injury in the opener that limited him to those three snaps in the opener against Carolina -- coming off the COVID-19 list last week.

But with the Raiders starting a crucial three-game stretch against AFC West opponents this week, there have been no further updates on Incognito's condition and Brown just had a scary episode in the Raiders' locker room in Cleveland on Sunday, when air was reportedly injected accidentally into his bloodstream as a pregame IV was administered.

"We don't know really anything about Trent's status," Gruden said as the Raiders prepare to play at the Los Angeles Chargers this weekend. "The most important thing is that we find out what went wrong. Our prayers are with Trent, certainly ... his availability and his status are really not up for discussion right now as far as we're concerned."

Even behind a makeshift line that has become the norm, the Raiders dominated the line of scrimmage in blustery Cleveland on Sunday, grinding out a 16-6 victory with a more-than-15-minute time-of-possession advantage while rushing for 208 yards on a mind-numbing 45 battering-ram carries.

Oh, and Las Vegas had to do it with a third-string right tackle. Because after Brown was wheeled out of the locker room and spent the night in a Cleveland hospital for observation, his replacement, Sam Young, injured a knee and Brandon Parker stepped in.

In all, the Raiders have used four different players at right tackle: Brown, Young, Parker and Denzelle Good, who has since moved to left guard to spell Incognito.

And in the Oct. 25 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the line also lost Jackson when he was ejected for stepping on a fallen opponent. Rookie John Simpson replaced Jackson at right guard that day.

Oh yeah, that was also when Miller, Good, Hudson and Jackson had to self-quarantine all week, missing practice, and were not sure they would even be cleared to play until the morning of the game. All because Brown had tested positive for COVID coming out of the bye. Because he was not wearing his tracker at the facility, the four other starting O-linemen were considered high-risk close contacts.


"Like I say every week, I see the way that they work," running back Josh Jacobs, who rushed for a career-best 128 yards on a career-high 31 carries in Cleveland, said of the offensive line. "I see the way that they prepare. I knew it was just a matter of time before we are clicking on all cylinders. We just happened to do that this week."

So if Good is Las Vegas' "unsung hero," as Gruden said, offensive line coach Tom Cable and offensive quality control coach Austin King also deserve props as far as Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is concerned.

"I am proud of those guys and what ... [they] were able to prepare those guys for anything and everything and every situation," said Carr, who is on pace to be sacked 30 times, a far cry from the 51 sacks he endured in 2018.

"It is pretty unbelievable what they are able to do and it shows that we have good football character."