Raiders notes: Watson will start opener at left tackle

Dennis Allen has made his QB decision, but he's not talking

Raiders notes: Watson will start opener at left tackle
August 30, 2013, 6:45 pm
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Second-round pick Menelik Watson played just two years of amateur football, always at the right tackle spot. (AP IMAGES)

Menelik Watson is a vast upgrade over other options to replace injured star Jared Veldheer. (AP IMAGES)

 

Raiders head coach Dennis Allen named his starter at a vital position.

Nope. It wasn’t at quarterback.

Pryor-or-Flynn will be debated another day at least.

[RELATED: A case for both both Raiders quarterbacks]

Allen announced on Friday afternoon that rookie Menelik Watson will start at left tackle Sept. 8 at Indianapolis. He earned the right after a solid debut Thursday night, where he held his own against Seattle’s defense in his first game at the position.

“After watching the tape, I was impressed,” Allen said. “He looked comfortable and he played physical. He finished blocks. There is a lot of growth potential there but, for the first time out, I thought he handled himself extremely well.”

Watson’s performance belies his experience. The second-round pick played just two years of amateur football, always at the right tackle spot. While he played nearly three quarters against various competition levels, Watson stood tall against all of them.

He didn’t allow a sack, a quarterback hit or a hurry from the left and fared well against the run. He missed some assignments, but was a vast upgrade over other options to replace injured star Jared Veldheer.

Times will get tougher during the regular season, especially as opponents find flaws on tape.

“I know that teams will try to find holes in my game,” Watson said Friday, before Allen’s announcement. “That’s why studying film is so important. You have to constantly get better and make proper adjustments each week. It’s a difficult challenge learning this position, but it’s one that I’m excited about.”

[REWIND: Watson makes strong debut at LT for Raiders]

The Raiders believe he can handle the rigors of a difficult position, and will give him first crack at replacing Veldheer. When Veldheer returns around midseason, Watson will likely move back to right tackle and significantly strengthen the line. Right now, he’ll be an anchor on the left.

“He is a big, powerful player,” Allen said. “He just hasn’t played the position a lot. He has to go through the growing process over there. I thought it was great for him to get out there Thursday and go through that process and prepare himself for what it might look like on opening day.”

NOTES

-- Allen said he hasn’t informed Matt Flynn or Terrelle Pryor who will be the starting quarterback. He expects to do so soon. Allen refrained from giving insight on the matter, but he did say he liked the way Pryor handled himself against the Seahawks.

“Terrelle made a few plays and did some things on the move with his legs,” Allen said. “That’s one of the things that he can do. There are some young mistakes we have to get fixed, but he’s able to use his feet as a weapon.”

Allen also said that he wants a playmaker to man the position.

“It really doesn’t matter what the box score says, or how many yards they threw or ran for,” Allen said. “What it boils down to is ball movement. How does that player move the team and do we score enough points. That’s the one thing I’m the most concerned with.”

-- Allen said defensive end Andre Carter hasn’t had a great camp. He said that Carter hasn’t gotten after the passer as much as the team would’ve liked, but he liked the effort and the mentorship he offers to younger players.

-- Allen said that rookie quarterback Tyler Wilson was an uneven performer on the fourth quarter of Thursdays game. Allen thought he missed some throws and “it looked like he hadn’t played in a while.” He did say the experience was good for his growth process.

-- Veteran guard Mike Brisiel was playing for a roster spot on Thursday and fared well in his first action since the preseason opener.

INJURY UPDATES

-- Left guard Tony Bergstrom suffered a foot injury in Thursday’s game and is expected to miss significant time. Allen didn’t give a timetable for his return, but said that Lucas Nix could slide back to left guard and Brisiel could fill in at right guard.

-- Rookie outside linebacker Sio Moore might not play in the Sept. 8 opener at Indianapolis due to a toe injury. He’ll be evaluated further on Monday. Kaluka Maiava would play strongside linebacker if Moore can’t go

-- Tight end David Ausberry (shoulder) might miss the opener as well. He’ll be looked at Monday as well.