Already under fire after a dismal performance in the team's opening game shutout loss, the Oakland Raiders offensive line has suffered another setback, as starting left tackle Robert Gallery has a partially torn calf muscle that likely will sideline him 2-to-3 weeks and perhaps longer.
The injury occurred during practice on Wednesday, and a Thursday MRI exam revealed the tear.
Sixth-year veteran Chad Slaughter, a journeyman who has made just 28 career appearances and whose only other start came in 2003, will move into the lineup at left tackle for the game against the Baltimore Ravens. Coach Art Shell considered moving left guard Barry Sims back to tackle, the position at which he started for the past five seasons, but he wanted to reduce the number of switches on a unit already shell-shocked by last week's results, a 27-0 home loss to the San Diego Chargers.
The Ravens shut out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their opener and the defense, which employed a heavy dose of blitzes and forced Chris Simms into three interceptions, played very aggressively. Baltimore figured to blitz embattled Raiders quarterback Aaron Brooks heavily even with Gallery in the lineup and may turn up the heat even more now against a line that surrendered nine sacks last week.
Slaughter, 28, has not played extensively in any season of his career. He replaced an injured Gallery in the 2005 season finale and played surprisingly well against New York Giants star Michael Strahan. Said Shell: "Chad is a battler."
The calf injury represents the latest setback for Gallery, who has not yet lived up to his reputation as the second player chosen overall in the 2004 draft. The former University of Iowa star was lauded as on of the top left tackle prospects of the past decade when he entered the league. But he played primarily at right tackle, and some at guard, in his first two seasons and struggled noticeably at times.
This spring, in revamping the entire offensive line, Shell decided to move Gallery to the left side and to bump Sims, the long-time starter there, to guard. Gallery has started in 32 of his 33 career appearances and, even though the tear to his calf is not total, such injuries are dicey and often require more recovery time than initially suggested.
By inserting Slaughter into the lineup, the Oakland unit will remain intact at its other four spots, with Sims at left guard, Jake Grove at center, rookie third-round choice Paul McQuistan at right guard and Langston Walker at right tackle. That relative stability may not help, however, unless the Raiders' line raises the level of its play.
"Obviously, we're not going to win many games with the way we played [last week]," Sims acknowledged.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here.