Raiders may be without starting center

Stefen Wisniewski walked slowly through the Raiders locker room,

a thick black brace around his right knee. He paused at his stall

briefly, donned a black hoodie then moved back out the way he

came.

For only the second time in three seasons, Oakland’s starting

center is facing a Sunday with no football. Wisniewski suffered a

knee sprain in last week’s loss to the Washington Redskins and

hasn’t practiced since.

It’s another blow to the Raiders offensive line, which could go

into Sunday’s game against San Diego with only one of its projected

starters still in place.

”It’s definitely a challenge,” said five-time Pro Bowl

offensive lineman Andre Gurode, who will start if Wisniewski is

unable to play against the Chargers. ”You just try to get with

everybody, make sure everybody’s on the same page and make sure

everybody knows what we have to do. That’s what we’re doing.”

Since losing left tackle Jared Veldheer to a triceps injury in

training camp, Oakland has scrambled to keep the same unit on the

field for longer than a week.

Khalif Barnes, the team’s starting right tackle since 2011, has

been at left tackle all season after the team tried former

first-round pick Alex Barron and rookie Menelik Watson in training

camp.

Tony Pashos was signed just before the start of the regular

season to replace Barnes at right tackle. Pashos has started all

four games but has been limited in practice this week with a groin

injury.

Right guard Mike Brisiel is the only player still playing in his

original position, while Gurode and Lucas Nix have split time at

left guard.

Wisniewski had been one of the few constants as well before

injuring his knee. The 48th player taken in the 2011 draft,

Wisniewski has played in 35 games in his two-plus seasons with the

Raiders. The only other game he missed was the season opener last

year.

Although the 6-foot-3, 307-pound center has not practiced this

week and is still a longshot to play against the Chargers, the

Raiders have not ruled him out.

”He’s made some improvement and we’ll see if he’s able to

practice (Friday),” coach Dennis Allen said. ”We’ll see if he’ll

be able to go.”

Oakland’s entire offense has been devastated by injuries.

Running back Darren McFadden remains sidelined with a sore

hamstring, while fullback Marcel Reece has been limited in practice

with a knee injury. David Ausberry, the projected starting tight

end, never played a down in the regular season and was placed on

injured reserve in late September.

Quarterback Terrelle Pryor was in that group with a concussion

but has since recovered and will be back in the starting lineup

this week.

No group has been hit quite as hard as the offensive line.

If Wisniewski can’t play, Gurode – who went to five straight Pro

Bowls with Dallas from 2006-10 – will make his first start at

center since the final game of the 2010 season. He spent 2011 with

Baltimore at left guard, and was with Chicago last season but did

not play.

”I don’t know if it’s going to change what we can and can’t

do,” Allen said. ”Obviously, you want to have Wiz in there. I

think he’s a really good football player and does a great job for

us in there and handles a lot of the communication for us. That’ll

be a little bit of an adjustment if he’s not able to go.

”If he’s not, I feel confident that Andre Gurode can go in

there and do the job. He’s played center in this league for a long

time and been a good player in this league for a long time.”

Notes: FS Charles Woodson returned to practice after skipping

Wednesday’s workout for non-football reasons. … DE Jason Hunter

(quad), DT Stacy McGee (shoulder) and OL Menelik Watson (knee) were

limited. … Allen insists he’s not concerned about Sebastian

Janikowski’s struggles. Janikowski has missed three field goal

attempts in four games. He had just three misses for all of

2012.