Three and Out: How much should McFadden play in preseason?
Editor's note: Training camp is underway. For all the latest news on the Silver and Black, check out our Raiders training camp page.
NAPA – Menelik Watson screamed at the top of his lungs, more out of frustration than pain.
The Raiders rookie offensive tackle headed back towards the locker room not 10 minutes after practicing Wednesday for the first time this training camp, and his temper got the best of him. He cocked back and punched a bench. Hard.
Frustration was evident and understandable. Watson strained his left calf just days before training camp, ended up on the active non-football injury list and fell further behind with every day missed.
Watson’s health improved to the point that he could practice and start catching up. The effort stopped shortly after it started. He re-aggravated his injury during a 1-on-1 drill early in the afternoon session, which will cause him to miss Friday’s exhibition opener against the Dallas Cowboys.
The injury isn’t considered serious – Watson said he’d be back next week – it is a source of aggravation for a player desperately wanting practice.
“This is not the way I planned on going through my first training camp,” Watson said. “I haven’t even taken a snap yet. It's very frustrating, especially after playing well this spring in OTAs. I wanted to get out there and get on the field and build on that.”
Watson can’t build positive momentum from the sideline. As a rookie with just one year of major-college football experience, Watson needs this training camp more than most. He believes his decision to return Wednesday was the right one. It wasn’t made in haste.
“I felt good. I didn't have any pain,” Watson said. “I was aware of the situation and that I had to be careful. I talked about it with the training staff, that we were going to take it slow. You get out there and you get your juices flowing and you're trying to push it ... and it happened.”
While the injury isn’t a complete setback, it is a hindrance for a player expected to compete for a starting spot at right tackle. It’s a disappointment for the player and coaching staff alike.
“It is disappointing,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. “Menelik is a guy that we’re counting on. He has a lot of talent, a lot of potential, but he has to be able to be out here.
“I think he’s as frustrated as any of us. It’s certainly not for lack of effort.”