Although the Las Vegas Raiders were left with several notable voids to fill along the offensive line this offseason, the most glaring was perhaps the departure of center Rodney Hudson.
Hudson had been a staple up front for the Raiders since joining the team as a second-round pick back in 2011. He was named to his first All-Pro team in 2019 and also earned a trip to the Pro Bowl for the third time in his career that year.
The Raiders made efforts for potential contingency options at center by re-signing Andre James and Nick Martin to the mix. Regardless, offensive line coach Tom Cable has wasted no time dubbing James as the successor to Hudson.
There are certainly some big shoes to fill for the new starters up front. Despite James’ relative lack of experience, guard Richie Incognito is optimistic about how he will fare in his new role.
“First and foremost, Andre is a great dude,” Incognito said. “He’s a great guy, he’s a hard worker, he’s humble, he’s hungry. He’s got position flexibility, he played tackle in college and then got to the league and played center. I go back to 2019 when Rod [Hudson] went down and Andre had to come in the game in Houston and we didn’t miss a beat. We were hammering them with the ball, we were running on them, we were making a comeback late, and Andre stepped in the next week in Detroit and he played at a high level. He’s a hard-working kid, he’s passionate. He’s from humble beginnings, being an undrafted guy, so I’m excited to see him go.”
Incognito’s praise is certainly a positive sign that James more than up to the task of taking on such an important position. While he managed to step in as a temporary solution before, he will now be expected to produce on a weekly basis for years to come.
James has managed to make a solid impression on both teammates and the coaching staff. Cable even suggested that he boasted similar traits to that of former three-time Pro Bowl center Max Unger.
The endorsement from both Incognito and Cable will surely pay some dividends when he enters training camp as the starter. However, the Raiders still made sure to bring in the veteran Martin as a potential fail-safe should their initial plans up front fall through during the 2021 NFL season.