Raiders' Gallery Gets Looks at Left Guard

NAPA, CA (AP) - Robert Gallery has been touted since draft day as Oakland's left tackle of the future.

For now, the Raiders are also interested in seeing how their No. 2 overall pick handles himself inside at left guard.

Gallery, who signed a 7-year contract last month, has been getting reps at both positions this week and will get time at each spot Saturday when the Raiders play their third exhibition game at Arizona.

"It's going fine," Gallery said Wednesday. "I'm making the transition and I'll be ready to go at both spots. ... I could care less as long as I'm on the field. I'm confident at both positions. I've got to learn a lot at both positions. I'm going to do what I can if I get in there."

This is the first time Gallery has ever played left guard - he converted from tight end to tackle during his first year at Iowa.

Coach Norv Turner said Barry Sims has been playing so well he will start at left tackle in the Raiders' season-opener Sept. 12 at Pittsburgh. Sims, an undrafted free agent, has started 46 of 48 regular-season games since 2001.

Turner likes Gallery's progress at both positions.

"I think he's an awfully talented guy," Turner said. "He's capable of playing any position. He looked very good inside. We felt good the last two days with what he's gotten. We'll get in the game and give him reps at both and see where we're at."

Gallery knows there are plenty of adjustments to be made. He doesn't believe that his tender right elbow - which he sprained last week and caused him to miss a week of practice - will be affected in either position.

Turner believes it will take time for Gallery to get used to another position.

"It's just different in there," Turner said. "Things happen so much faster, and we wanted to see how he would react. You've got people coming from both sides, different stunts, different games. He looked very comfortable."

If Gallery becomes the left guard, Frank Middleton could be the odd man out. Middleton proclaimed himself the starter upon his arrival at camp and worked hard this offseason to get in better shape.

"I don't play football to back anyone up and watch somebody play," he said Tuesday. "I play football because I love the game and want to be a starter. If I can't be one here, cut me out and let me go play football somewhere else. But don't get me wrong, I'd love to be the starting guard here.

"I don't think it has anything to do with me. Somebody wants (Gallery) on the field. But I don't think anyone should mess up my career and stab me in the back."

By Janie McCauley
Aug 26, 2004
© Copyright 2004-2005

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