Chris Morris liked his chances of becoming the Oakland Raiders starting center this season, even as he practiced with the team's backups nearly all of training camp.
The fourth-year offensive lineman's beliefs were validated this week when the Raiders cut John Wade and promoted Morris ahead of Samson Satele to start Monday night's season-opener against the San Diego Chargers.
"That was definitely the goal," Morris said. "It was different having a couple of guys that they foresaw being ahead of you at that point. I was putting together some pretty good games and trying to work on my technique a lot during practice. I think just doing good helped me out."
Morris becomes the third different starting center for the Raiders in three years and fourth in the last five. Jake Grove, the starter in 2008, signed with Miami as a free agent this past offseason.
Oakland traded a sixth-round pick and exchanged fourth-round picks with Miami to get Satele from the Dolphins, anticipating the third-year center would compete with Wade for the starting job.
Satele was Miami's starter since the beginning of his rookie season in 2007 but underwent shoulder surgery this past offseason and struggled making the line calls in Oakland during training camp.
When Oakland made Wade one of its final roster cuts last Saturday, coach Tom Cable stunned reporters by announcing Morris would start against the Chargers.
"Whatever limitations he has, he overcomes them with his brain and knowing where to put his body, and knowing how to get there," said Cable, a former offensive line coach. "He just kind of plugs along and just keeps grinding and trying to perfect what he does."
For Morris, starting the Raiders' season-opener is reward for his patience since joining the team as a seventh-round draft pick in 2006. The 6-foot-4, 305-pound Morris started one game at right guard in place of injured Cooper Carlisle last year and filled in at center against Carolina and Tampa Bay last year when Grove was hurt. He has also played left guard and was Oakland's long-snapper for five games as a rookie.
Now he's the starting center on a team that ranked last in passing and 29th overall in 2008.
"I've always focused on center because I always knew I'd have to play that in a pinch," Morris said. "I always studied it and made sure I was ready for it. It feels fantastic. But the work doesn't stop here. I can't let anything slide or else I could be back as a backup."
Notes: DE Richard Seymour, who was acquired from New England in exchange for Oakland's first-round pick in 2011, failed to report for a second straight day. ... RB Justin Fargas (hamstring) was held out of practice but is expected to work out with the team on Friday. ... CB Nnamdi Asomugha practiced on a limited basis and wore a thick bandage around his left wrist, which has a chipped bone and cartilage damage. Asomugha is still expected to start against San Diego.