- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 4, 2010

NAPA, CALIF. (AP) - After an injury-filled couple of seasons, Oakland Raiders’ left guard Robert Gallery is eager to stay healthy and on the field.

Gallery missed 10 games last season after breaking his right leg early in Week 2 and a back injury sidelined him for the final three games of 2009.

Add to that the first two weeks of training camp Gallery missed last year after undergoing an emergency appendectomy.

“I think I’m good for probably another five years,” Gallery said. “It was just one thing after another. They were both freak things. It wasn’t because I was out of shape or anything like that. Hopefully that’s it for the duration.”

The Raiders hope so too.

Gallery, the No. 2 overall draft pick in 2004, is the anchor of Oakland’s offensive line after having made a successful conversion from tackle to guard early in his career.

Coach Tom Cable calls Gallery “arguably (our) best player.”

With Gallery in the lineup, the Raiders averaged 289.1 yards in total offense and allowed 2.8 sacks a game in 2009. In the 10 games he was injured, the offense fell to 252.3 yards while the sacks were at 3.2 per game.

It wasn’t just the stats that suffered either.

Left tackle Mario Henderson and center Samson Satele, who line up alongside Gallery, both struggled without their left guard.

“I think that’s a fair statement,” Cable said. “Every position has someone that’s the glue to it, especially in the offensive line where you have that many people who need to be on the same page every snap, down after down. When you take arguably your best player out of that mix I think it does affect the people around them.

“Robert is a really fine, fine player and he’s proven that. Last year the injury didn’t (give) him the opportunity for him to show it.”

The 6-foot-7, 325-pound Gallery, whose long stringy hair and tattoo-covered forearms make him easy to spot in a crowd, underwent surgery in the offseason after injuring his lower back in a Week 13 win at Pittsburgh.

Doctors fused three vertebrae together and removed some cartilage in Gallery’s back. Before the surgery, Gallery wondered if his career might be over.

“That was worse than anything,” Gallery said. “Once we figured out what it was and they could fix it, we went with it. It was frustrating because I’ve been doing that same stuff my whole career, the same things I did when I got hurt. There’s a week where you’re upset about it, but then you have to get healthy and then get back.”

Notes: WR Darrius Heyward-Bey was given a day of rest, according to Cable, though the move was likely cautionary after Heyward-Bey collided with safety Michael Huff in practice. … As predicted by several observers, rookie Lamarr Houston was involved in the first fight of camp. The fiery defensive lineman and second-year tight end Brandon Myers had to be pulled apart after tussling during a team scrimmage. … Rookie cornerback Walter McFadden took reps with the starting defense in place of incumbent starter Chris Johnson.

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