When the Raiders elected to overhaul three-fifths of their starting offensive line this offseason, one of the reasons they felt comfortable doing so was the presence of center Andre James.
James entered the league out of UCLA as a tackle in 2019, but converted to center when he reached the Raiders. He served as Rodney Hudson‘s backup for the last two years, starting the team’s victory over Detroit as a rookie. But James did not play an offensive snap in 2020.
Still, Las Vegas had so much confidence in James that the team gave him a $12 million extension with $6 million guaranteed just after trading Hudson to the Cardinals.
Derek Carr is plenty familiar with James, having practiced with him for two years. The quarterback seems to have no reservations about James taking over.
“[James] started the Detroit game for us and did a great job — showed flashes of someone with a great understanding and toughness and all the traits you need at that spot,” Carr said Wednesday, via Ed Graney of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “It was hard [for James] to play behind Rodney, who everyone would probably say is the best center in the league. But now that Rodney is gone, Andre can step in.
“I feel super confident that he’s going to do a great job. We haven’t put pads on yet. We haven’t played any games yet. I don’t want to put any expectations out there. I’m just excited for him because he’s super smart and I believe he’s a good football player.”
Las Vegas’ offense was not the team’s problem last year, finishing in the top 10 in both yards and points scored. But if the five up front take a significant step back after all the changes, then the Raiders could have a hard time making the postseason in 2021.