Three and Out: All eyes on Hayden; key players return to practice
NAPA – Menelik Watson was expected to play right tackle as a professional. The second-round pick from Florida State played there in college, and the Raiders hoped he’d contend for that starting spot in the pros.
A calf injury took him out of the running and essentially out of this training camp, but the Raiders still hope he can contribute quickly.
Injuries ravaged the offensive line and forced the Raiders to consider moving him from right to left. Temporarily, at least. When he can play again, which isn’t now or the immediate future.
The Raiders certainly hope he gets well soon.
Star left tackle Jared Veldheer is out for an extended time recovering from triceps surgery and Raiders have no quality depth to replace him, leaving the team desperate to improve offensive line play.
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That might mean putting a rookie who has missed all but an hour of camp right in on the blind side.
“I think that’s something that is a possibility,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. “It’s something that we could look at. We’ve got to get the best five guys that give us the best chance to have success. Whoever those best five are, we’re going to put them in the positions that give us a chance.”
While Watson was projected as a right tackle, he can certainly play on the left. His relative inexperience has been compounded by injury, but Watson might still be the best option on the roster.
Right now, tackle depth is razor thin
The Raiders have last week’s starter Alex Barron and reserve Willie Smith available on the left. Guard Tony Bergstrom played right tackle last week behind Khalif Barnes, but he’ll only play there in the regular season as an emergency replacement.
That leaves Watson and the waiver wire.
“Right now we’re going with the three guys that we have healthy, with Tony helping us,” Allen said. “Hopefully we’ll get Menelik out here back and ready to go.”