Alex Barron hasn't played a snap in the NFL in two years. He missed the 2011 season with a knee injury, and didn't didn't make it back in 2012. Most figured he was done with football for good, but the former first-round pick has surprised in Raiders camp and could challenge for the starting right tackle job, according to Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle:
"He's a totally different guy and a totally different player," [offensive coordinator Greg] Olson said. "He is way more mature. Before, he had a bad work ethic and wasn't physical."
Barron's improved effort has obviously helped him, but he's also seizing an opportunity created by injuries, according to Silver and Black Pride. This year's second-round pick, Menelik Watson, has been dealing with a calf injury, one that he just re-aggravated this week. It stands to reason that the longer Watson's on the shelf, the better Barron's chances are of picking up playing time.
Watson was actually part of the reason the Raiders took a chance on Barron. The team sent scouts to Watson's pro day at Florida State, which is Barron's alma mater. Barron was in Tallahassee at the time to work out, and he caught the eye of the team that would sign him shortly afterwards.