Day two of Raiders joint practices with the Rams is in the books. Another day with Greg Van Roten firmly entrenched as the Raiders first team right guard.
The 12th year lineman has been a mainstay with the rest of the first team of late. And there’s no reason to believe that will change anytime soon.
“Greg’s a tough guy. Very smart. Kind of fits the mold of what we like up front,” head coach Josh McDaniels said today. “Aggressive, on the same page, good communicator, can play multiple positions, and just he’s a fighter inside, which is what you want. Really good addition. Love the guy in terms of what he brings to our team and the makeup of our locker room. He’s been a seamless fit in our offensive line room.”
That room had several positions settled coming out of last season. Alex Bars at right guard seemed to be the only one that was still having obvious issues, making the position in dire need of addressing.
Through the first few months of the offseason, the Raiders had yet to add anyone. Not in free agency and not in the draft.
Van Roten’s addition didn’t come until early May. The veteran guard started 54 games the past five seasons, including being the Jets’ full time starter for two seasons in 2020-21. And suddenly the Raiders had an established and experienced guard in the building.
The former undrafted guard out of University of Pennsylvania took a few years to find a foothold in the NFL. He appeared in ten games with no starts his first couple years and then couldn’t get on a roster for three seasons from 2014-16.
He finally broke back in with the Panthers in 2017 and hasn’t looked back.
“It’s being consistent and working hard every day,” said Van Roten of his journey. “It sounds simple, but it’s a hard thing to do. Because once you’re consistent, coaches will trust you and they’ll give you more opportunity and that’s just kind of how it goes. So, I’ve been lucky to play a lot and get exposed to a lot and be around a lot of good coaches and just helped my career get to this point.”
Van Roten waiting out the first few waves of free agency and the draft before signing with a team looks to have been a wise decision. And it has worked out well for the Raiders too. The team needed competition at guard and he needed a team where he had a legit shot at the job.
From there it was about showing the Raiders he was their guy.
“I’ve played a lot of football, I have a lot of experience and I kind of know how it goes, so the more you can do the more opportunity you’re going to have,” Van Roten added. “And I just try to make the most of the opportunities that I get when I get in there. So, who knows how it all shakes out, but I’m just trying to do my best when my best is needed.”
Van Roten’s emergence sets the Raiders starting five at LT Kolton Miller, LG Dylan Parham, C Andre James, RG Van Roten, and RT Jermaine Eluemunor.
Meanwhile, Alex Bars consistently takes the field with the second team, battling for one of the interior utility reserve jobs.