NFL Nation: Menelik Watson

Raiders Camp Report: Day 6

July, 31, 2014
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NAPA, Calif. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming of of Oakland Raiders training camp:
  • Charles Woodson has always been a fan favorite of Raider Nation and he endeared himself further on Thursday. First, he celebrated mightily an interception of Matt Schaub along the left sideline by running into the stands to revel in the pick with the fans. It was a high-arcing floater that was easily Schaub's worst throw of camp, granted, in real time he would have been sacked by Khalil Mack so he threw up a duck instead. One play later, Woodson picked off Schaub again, stepping in front of a bullet to the left flat, and, yes, taking it to the house for a , wait for it, pick-six. "I know how this whole thing is going to work," bristled Raiders coach Dennis Allen. "Anytime Schaub throws an interception, everybody's going to want to try to hit the panic button and act like the sky is falling ... I'll let you guys push the panic button. I'm not going to. He's still doing a great job." So there.
  • It was the third straight practice in pads -- the Raiders were off Tuesday -- and it was also the chippiest and hardest-hitting practice of camp thus far. No, there have not been any fights ... yet, but we finally got a glimpse of rookie linebacker Khalil Mack's power. Tight end Mychal Rivera had the task of blocking Mack on a handoff to Darren McFadden, but Mack popped Rivera so hard he ran into McFadden in the backfield.
  • Austin Howard returned to practice a day after leaving early with a tight back and showed no ill effects. In fact, the 6-foot-7, 330-pounder looked the part of an absolute beast as a pulling right guard. In one drill, he swallowed up Mack and cleared space for Maurice Jones-Drew to pick up a sizeable gain.
  • A day after LaMarr Woodley gave right tackle Menelik Watson the business, fellow defensive end Justin Tuck was putting on an exhibition against left tackle Donald Penn. Yes, you could say the defense won the day, because besides Woodson's two picks of Schaub, safety Brandian Ross also had an interception of rookie Derek Carr. And rookie Jonathan Dowling had an interception in individual drills. Defensive coordinator Jason Tarver was more than pleased following practice.
  • Linebacker Kaelin Burnett called his hard hit on running back George Atkinson III a "get-back shot" for a blow the rookie delivered to Burnett a few days earlier on what was supposed to be a slower walkthrough kickoff return drill. "I said, ‘I'm going to get him back,'" Burnett said with a smile. "Nah, we're all just out here competing to make us all better."
  • Receiver Juron Criner (hamstring), linebackers Kaluka Maiava (hamstring) and Marshall McFadden (hip) and safety Usama Young (quad) worked on the side with a trainer before practice. Receiver Greg Little (hamstring) did not participate, nor did defensive lineman Antonio Smith, who underwent sports hernia surgery this offseason and tweaked his groin on Wednesday. Defensive lineman C.J. Wilson (hamstring) came off the non-football injury list and practiced for the first time.
  • The Raiders practice again Friday at 3 p.m. PT
Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie's mantra is to build a team through the draft, and to fill in the gaps through free agency. McKenzie loves his draft picks, but with Monday's news that the Raiders were shut out of the compensatory pick pool, he has but five picks at his disposal.

Currently the Raiders hold picks in the first round (No. 5 overall), second round (No. 36), third round (No. 67), fourth round (No. 107) and two in the seventh round (Nos. 219 and 235).

The Raiders' fifth-round pick went to the Seattle Seahawks last April 1 for quarterback Matt Flynn and Oakland's sixth-rounder just went to the Houston Texans for quarterback Matt Schaub. Oakland's second seventh-rounder (No. 235) came from the Arizona Cardinals in the deal that sent quarterback Carson Palmer to the desert on April 2, 2013.

So with only five selections at his disposal, it's easy to imagine McKenzie going into Trader Reggie mode again to garner more picks, even if it means moving down from the fifth overall pick.

Last year, McKenzie entered the draft with five picks. By the time it was over, he had 10 selections.

First, he dealt the No. 3 overall pick to the Miami Dolphins for their first-rounder at No. 12, which he used to selected cornerback D.J. Hayden, as well as the Dolphins' second-round selection at No. 42 to take offensive lineman Menelik Watson.

Then, after the Philadelphia Eagles traded in front of the Raiders to draft USC quarterback Matt Barkley, McKenzie gave the Tampa Bay Buccaneers their fourth-round pick at No. 100 in exchange for the Buccaneers' fourth-rounder at No. 112, which they used on Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson, and their sixth-rounder at No. 181, which became running back Latavius Murray.

McKenzie completed his third trade of the draft in the sixth round, flipping the 176th overall selection acquired in the Palmer trade to Houston for the Texans' sixth-rounder at No. 184, which became tight end Mychal Rivera and seventh-rounder at No. 233, defensive end David Bass.

Even if McKenzie is not as aggressive this time around, he should be active. The key, then, is hitting on his picks, which is especially important in first year of the Raiders' reconstruction.
Richie Incognito as a member of the Oakland Raiders is so, well, last regime. Or have you not noticed the trend and type of player general manager Reggie McKenzie has been signing thus far this offseason?

Incognito
They are guys not only with championship pedigrees but also locker room leaders. Guys like Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley and James Jones, and yes, the re-signed Charles Woodson.

Incognito exhibits none of those traits.

Sure, the left guard is a mauler on the offensive line who would have fit in nicely on the old-school Raiders’ island of misfit toys (imagine him and Lyle Alzado going at it in practice), but McKenzie is veering away from those types of players.

Asked at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando on Monday if he had seen the NFL.com report in which Incognito said he was “100 percent into” the prospect of playing for the Raiders, McKenzie smiled.

“I’ve heard about it,” McKenzie said, per the Bay Area News Group.

Asked what he thought about it, McKenzie smiled and said nothing.

Asked if he was interested in Incognito, McKenzie again smiled and was mute.

From a pure playing standpoint, Incognito does have relationships with Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson and assistant head coach/offensive line coach Tony Sparano.

“I’m a loyal guy,” Incognito told NFL.com, “and I’d love to play for them again. And, of course, the Raiders have that aura.”

But again, that aura is from a different generation. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, it just is.

Because the notion of Incognito -- who may still face league discipline for his role in the bullying episode in Miami involving Jonathan Martin -- joining the Raiders gave pause to even the progeny of Al Davis.

“I’d have to think about that,” Mark Davis told reporters.

He’d probably be wise to check in with recently signed defensive end Antonio Smith, who has a longstanding feud with Incognito going back to their college days in the Big 12, a bad blood grudge that’s included kicks to the head, helmets being ripped off and more-than-salty threats.

Yeah, Incognito would be a great fit for the old Raiders ... just not McKenzie’s Raiders, who have already added offensive linemen Donald Penn, Kevin Boothe and Austin Howard, to go along with center Stefen Wisniewski, the re-signed Khalif Barnes, second-year tackle Menelik Watson, veteran right guard Mike Brisiel, Matt McCants, Lamar Mady and McKenzie's first-ever draft pick, Tony Bergstrom.

As one anonymous Raiders player told me last season when I asked which player, Incognito or Martin, he would rather have as a teammate, “Neither,” was the reply.

Offseason Blueprint: Raiders

March, 4, 2014
3/04/14
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Looking for a blueprint for the Raiders’ offseason as they try to turn the corner after consecutive 4-12 seasons under general manager Reggie McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen?

Our ESPN.com NFL Insiders have you covered Insider. With more than $60 million in salary cap space, to 18 scheduled unrestricted free agents, the Raiders have more than a few franchise-altering decisions to make. From finding a franchise quarterback (neither Terrelle Pryor nor Matt McGloin seem to be the answer) to looking at a potential starting lineup (is Mychal Rivera the truth at tight end?) to who the Raiders should target in free agency (Jared Allen, anyone?) to what they should do with the No. 5 overall pick (QB or DE, DE or QB?) to McKenzie’s top picks from a year ago needing to step up (are you listening, D.J. Hayden and Menelik Watson?). It’s all here.
While both strong safety Tyvon Branch and running back Rashad Jennings practiced in limited capacities Thursday, Branch seems to be the more likely of the two to play Sunday in the Oakland Raiders' game at the New York Jets.

Jennings, who suffered a concussion in Oakland's Thanksgiving Day loss at the Dallas Cowboys, has yet to pass all of his league-mandated concussion protocol tests.

Branch
Jennings
"He's better [but] he's still not fully ready to go," Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. "So, again, we'll have to monitor that the rest of the week. We've still got a couple of days so we'll see where he's at."

According to ESPN Stats & Info, Jennings' 448 yards rushing since Week 9 are the second-most in the NFL, behind the Minnesota Vikings' Adrian Peterson.

Also, Jennings' four rushing touchdowns in that time frame are tied for the most in the league, and his 231 yards after contact rank third.

The only change to the Raiders' injury report was rookie offensive tackle Menelik Watson practicing fully a day after being limited by illness. Running backs Darren McFadden and Jeremy Stewart again missed practice and Taiwan Jones, who was drafted as a tailback before making the switch to cornerback this offseason, took reps at running back for the second consecutive day.

Plus, Lucas Nix, the former starting left guard, took Mike Brisiel's reps at right guard again.

Following, then, is the Raiders' injury report for Thursday:

Did not participate: RG Mike Brisiel (knee), LB Kaluka Maiava (ribs/calf), RB Darren McFadden (ankle), WR Denarius Moore (shoulder), RB Jeremy Stewart (ankle/knee), S Usama Young (neck)

Limited practice: SS Tyvon Branch (ankle), LB Miles Burris (toe), DE Jason Hunter (foot), Rashad Jennings (concussion)

Full practice: OT Menelik Watson (illness)
IRVING, Texas -- The Oakland Raiders activated left tackle Jared Veldheer off the reserve/injured-designated to return list Wednesday in time to make his season debut Thursday against the Dallas Cowboys.

Ayodele
Veldheer
But rather than cut another offensive lineman to make room for Veldheer, the Raiders waived rookie quarterback Tyler Wilson in the corresponding roster move.

Wilson was the Raiders' fourth-round draft pick and was initially cut before the preseason before clearing waivers and being signed to the practice squad. Wilson was then signed to the active roster Nov. 16.

It means the Raiders will enter the Thanksgiving Day game with two quarterbacks in starter Matt McGloin and backup Terrelle Pryor.

The Raiders' first-round draft pick, cornerback D.J. Hayden, is on injured reserve, while their second-rounder, offensive tackle Menelik Watson, was a healthy scratch last week. Third-round draft choice Sio Moore starts at linebacker.

Watson among inactives, Pryor active

November, 24, 2013
11/24/13
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OAKLAND -- Rookie right tackle Menelik Watson is an apparent healthy scratch for the Oakland Raiders as Watson, who was not on the team’s injury report this week, is among their seven inactive players.

Terrelle Pryor's right knee, though, is healthy enough that he is active and will be Matt McGloin's backup at quarterback.

The Raiders will have more of their undrafted free agents starting against the Tennessee Titans -- three, McGloin, left guard Lucas Nix and receiver Rod Streater -- than players they have drafted over the past two years -- two, defensive tackle Stacy McGee and linebacker Sio Moore.

Here are the inactives for both teams:

Raiders: SS Tyvon Branch, DE Jason Hunter, RB Darren McFadden, OL Lamar Mady, WR Denarius Moore, OT Menelik Watson, QB Tyler Wilson

Titans: OT Byron Stingily, DT Mike Martin, QB John Skelton, WR Damian Williams, CB Micah Pellerin, C Kevin Matthews, LB Zac Diles
As expected, the Oakland Raiders ruled running back Darren McFadden out of Sunday’s game at the New York Giants as he did not practice this week after reaggravating his right hamstring in last weekend’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

McFadden
McFadden, who has never played more than 13 games in a season and will now have missed 15 of Oakland’s last 34 games, will be joined by rookie cornerback D.J. Hayden, the No. 12 overall draft pick who endured a rough game against the Eagles and strained his groin in practice Wednesday.

The two high-profile players were among six ruled out by Oakland on Friday, which means second-round pick Menelik Watson will start at right tackle and face Giants defensive end Justin Tuck. Phillip Adams will replace Hayden in the Raiders’ nickel defense.

Also, cornerback Tracy Porter practiced on a limited basis Friday with a shoulder injury after practicing without restrictions the previous two days. Place-kicker Sebastian Janikowski and receiver Andre Holmes practiced full after being limited on Thursday.

Here's the Raiders’ status report for Sunday:

Out: SS Tyvon Branch (ankle), WR Juron Criner (right shoulder), CB D.J. Hayden (groin), RT Matt McCants (toe), RB Darren McFadden (right hamstring), RT Tony Pashos (hip).

Questionable: C/G Andre Gurode (quad), LB Kaluka Maiava (ribs).

Probable: WR Andre Holmes (hamstring), PK Sebastian Janikowski (ribs), CB Tracy Porter (shoulder), QB Terrelle Pryor (knee), WR Rod Streater (hip).

Upon Further Review: Raiders Week 9

November, 4, 2013
11/04/13
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An examination of four hot issues from the Oakland Raiders49-20 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles:

[+] EnlargeD.J. Hayden
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty ImagesRaiders cornerback D.J. Hayden was burned repeatedly by Eagles receivers Sunday.
Right where they wanted ’em: The Raiders had just scored to get within 21-10 in the second quarter and their defense had the Eagles in a third-and-16 at their own 14-yard line. A defensive stop would surely shift momentum to the Raiders. Except ... Oakland rushed only three players, Eagles quarterback Nick Foles had plenty of time to look downfield and DeSean Jackson found a soft spot in the zone, camped out and caught Foles’ pass for a 17-yard gain and a first down. Five plays later, the Eagles scored on the fourth of Foles’ record-tying seven touchdown passes, a 15-yard toss to Zach Ertz, and the rout was on. “That’s just unacceptable for this defense,” free safety Charles Woodson said. “That’s a chance to give yourself momentum and we came out and played fired up for the first couple of plays on that series, then, all of a sudden, they hit a third-and-16 and they keep the ball and continue to move down the field. That’s uncharacteristic of the way we’ve been playing throughout this season.”

Hayden’s baptism by fire: D.J. Hayden did his best Phillip Buchanon impersonation, and that was not a good thing. Hayden, the Raiders’ first-round draft pick, was torched, specifically by Jackson and Riley Cooper. On three specific catches, Hayden surrendered 139 yards, having come into the game with 20 catches surrendered on 34 targets for 247 yards. Hayden declined to comment at his locker. “He had a tough day,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said of Hayden. “He had a tough day, and D.J. wasn’t the only one that had a tough day. Obviously, when you play out there on the island and you have a tough day, those things stand out a little bit more. He’s a young player. He’s going to continue to work. He’s going to continue to get better and we still have confidence that he can go out and do the job.”

Watson debuts: Rookie Menelik Watson, who has been sidelined by calf and knee and issues, made his NFL debut in the second quarter, replacing the injured Matt McCants (foot) at right tackle. Was Watson nervous? “No, man, never nervous, never nervous,” he said. “They’re men out there, it’s not machines or aliens we’re playing against, it’s just men. I’m never nervous, whoever it is, it doesn’t matter to me.” The question, then, is if Watson takes over the starting gig at right tackle.

Of explosive plays VIII: And now for our weekly tracking of “explosive” plays. As deemed by Allen, such a play is one that gains at least 16 yards through the air or 12 yards on the ground. The Raiders had 11 such plays against Philadelphia, four runs, and seven passes, while the Eagles had 13 explosive plays, three runs and 10 passes (four of which went for touchdowns). In eight games, the Raiders have 60 explosive plays (21 runs, 39 passes), with two TD runs and four passing scores. Oakland’s opponents, meanwhile, have 59 explosive plays combined, 12 runs (one TD) and 47 passes (five TDs).

Watson in line to make Raiders debut

November, 1, 2013
11/01/13
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ALAMEDA, Calif. -- With offensive linemen Andre Gurode and Tony Pashos ruled out of Sunday’s game against Philadelphia, Raiders rookie tackle Menelik Watson is in line to make his regular-season debut.

Watson, Oakland’s second-round draft pick, was in line to start at left tackle to open the season but underwent knee surgery before the opener. He returned in early October but hurt a calf and did not start practicing again until this week.

“He’s been better,” coach Dennis Allen said of Watson. “You always worry about the fact that he’s had such limited reps, but physically he looks like he’s ready to go.”

The Raiders’ starting offensive line against the Eagles figures to be: LT Khalif Barnes, LG Lucas Nix, C Stefen Wisniewski, RG Mike Brisiel, RT Matt McCants, with Watson the backup tackle and Lamar Mady the backup guard.

Following, then, is the Raiders’ status report for Sunday:

Out: SS Tyvon Branch (ankle), C/G Andre Gurode (quad), RT Tony Pashos (hip)

Questionable: WR Andre Holmes (hamstring), LT Menelik Watson (calf)
ALAMEDA, Calif. – Oakland Raiders linebacker Miles Burris, who has been on the mend since knee surgery in January, and left tackle Menelik Watson, who has been sidelined by a sore calf, returned to practice Wednesday. And left tackle Jared Veldheer, who underwent surgery on his left triceps in August, is closer to returning after a check-up Monday with his doctor in Los Angeles found no setbacks.

Watson
Burris
“Everything’s real positive,” Veldheer said Wednesday. “We’re on the right track. It’s getting close. This is the exciting part.”

Coach Dennis Allen concurred, pointing to the three-month recovery period initially prescribed to Veldheer.

“We’re at a point now where we can kind of ramp up the rehab a little bit,” Allen said. “I still think he’s a little bit away but indications are that he’s on schedule. Hopefully we’ll have him out there sooner rather than later.”

Technically, Veldheer is eligible to play Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. That will not happen, though.

Burris, meanwhile, is now on a 21-day clock at the end of which the Raiders must activate him to the 53-man roster or place him on season-ending injured reserve.

“My biggest goal is to get back on the 53-man [roster] and contribute any way I can,” said Burris, who started 15 games at weakside linebacker for the Raiders as a rookie last season but has been studying all three linebacker spots in Oakland’s 4-3 alignment in his time off.

Watson, the Raiders’ second-round draft pick this year, has dealt with injuries to his calf and knee since training camp. He was slated to start at left tackle despite only a handful of practices before knee surgery put a stop to that plan. Still, despite limited action, he could get into a game in short order, especially with offensive linemen Tony Pashos and Andre Gurode still out. Watson will work at both tackle positions in practice.

“With some of the depth issues we have on the offensive line right now, [Watson] could potentially be forced into action sooner than we’d normally want,” Allen said.

Following, then, is the Raiders’ injury report for Wednesday:

Did not participate: SS Tyvon Branch (ankle), C/G Andre Gurode (quadriceps), RT Tony Pashos (hip).

Limited practice: LT Menelik Watson (calf).

Burris, Watson to practice Wednesday

October, 28, 2013
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The Raiders should be getting reinforcements from their injured masses soon.

Oakland coach Dennis Allen said in his weekly news conference Monday that second-year linebacker Miles Burris and rookie tackle Menelik Watson should begin practicing on Wednesday.

Allen also said left tackle Jared Veldheer, who is on the injured reserve/designated to return list, was in Los Angeles Monday for a checkup on his surgically repaired left triceps. The results of the visit will determine when Veldheer can begin football-related activities, as he is technically eligible to play this weekend against Philadelphia. Once he starts practicing, the Raiders have 14 days to activate him or place him on season-ending injured reserve.

Burris, meanwhile, is on the reserve/physically unable to perform list, recovering from offseason knee surgery. He has been eligible to practice since before the bye week. Once he practices, the Raiders have 21 days to activate him or put him on IR. He has been working with a trainer on a side field during practice.

Watson, the Raiders’ second-round draft pick, has dealt with knee and calf issues as Allen recently surmised Watson has had all of 10 days of practice with the team.

Also, another week off should help with the health of right tackle Tony Pashos (hip) and left guard/center Andre Gurode (quad) and possibly strong safety Tyvon Branch (ankle). Center Stefen Wisniewski played for the first time since spraining his right knee on Sept. 29.
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Tony Sparano once took over a 1-15 team in Miami and had the Dolphins in the playoffs as an 11-5 division champion the next year.

So yeah, the Raiders assistant head coach, who is also Oakland’s offensive line coach, knows all about challenges. But his current situation with the Raiders’ banged-up O-line is a different animal. A wounded one, so to speak.

“This has been the most moving pieces ... that I’ve been around,” Sparano said Wednesday.

“With the amount of injuries and, at times, the way that they’ve happened, it’s been a challenge, but it’s not an excuse. There’s no excuse. From our end, we talk about two things -- we make progress, not excuses, and that’s what we’re doing.”

[+] EnlargeTony Sparano
Kyle Terada/USA TODAY SportsRaiders assistant head coach/offensive line coach Tony Sparano has had to cope with a rash of injuries to his O-line.
Could you blame Sparano, though, if he at least quietly asked the football gods for a do-over?

It began in training camp when left tackle Jared Veldheer underwent surgery on his left triceps. Then guard Tony Bergstrom, the first pick of the Reggie McKenzie/Dennis Allen regime, was lost for the season with a lisfranc injury to his right foot.

“It just trickles down,” Sparano said. “The most that I’ve seen in a long time.”

Guard Lucas Nix dealt with an ankle sprain and Stefen Wisniewski missed two games with a sprained right knee, though he practiced Wednesday for the first time since injuring it on Sept. 29 against Washington. Right tackle Tony Pashos, who was signed just before the season opener, has dealt with groin and hip issues and did not practice Wednesday, nor did backup center/left guard Andre Gurode, who is nursing a quad injury.

Rookie second-round draft pick Menelik Watson has been sidelined with calf problems, then knee problems, and then calf problems again. Coach Dennis Allen surmised the Raiders have had Watson for maybe 10 practices total.

“We have not played with the same unit for two weeks in a row since the third quarter of the Jacksonville game,” Sparano said. And that was in Week 2.

It’s all made for a couple of baptisms by fire for rookie guard Lamar Mady and first-year tackle Matt McCants.

“It doesn’t really matter who’s up front because I believe in all of them,” Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor said. “Some guys may be a little more talented, yes, but I believe in all those guys, and I think they’re going to show this Sunday.”

If nothing else, the extended playing time for Mady and McCants will only help them down the road, even if the 10 sacks the Raiders surrendered in Kansas City was reduced to nine following a league review.

The versatility of his linemen, Sparano said, has been a saving grace. Gurode has the ability to play left guard and center. Brisiel was able to move from right guard to center. Khalif Barnes moved from right tackle to left tackle, and Mady took practice snaps at center.

Doing it all on a game-changing (for the positive) level? Now that’s a different story.

Still, Sparano said he told the linemen in camp that whoever made that initial 53-man roster would see playing time in games. That’s just the nature of the beast.

This beast, though, has been untamed, what with the rash of injuries.

“There’s body blows that go on in our league every single day,” Sparano said. “We just happen to be catching a few body blows right now at the wrong time, and you’ve got to be able to overcome them.

“People that can overcome them the best and the fastest will end up being in the mix at the end of this.”
ALAMEDA, Calif. – The Oakland Raiders’ offensive line received a boost Wednesday as center Stefen Wisniewski returned to practice for the first time since he sprained his right knee against Washington on Sept. 29.

Wisniewski
Wisniewski practiced in a limited fashion, but coach Dennis Allen was optimistic Wisniewski could play Sunday against Pittsburgh and give the beleaguered O-line a lift, both physically and mentally.

“I think that’s huge,” Allen said. “I think what he means to our offensive line, the type of player he is, his intelligence level, helps us with a lot of the communication, not only in protective schemes, but also in the run game.

“Communication is going to be critical against this defense and making sure we can identify where the rushers are coming from. Wiz has done a great job of that for us all year long, so it’s good to have him back out there.”

Wisniewski said he was initially told his injury would be a three-to-four-week deal, so three weeks later, he’s right on schedule. Even if sitting by and watching the line crumble was tough.

“It hurts,” he said. “That San Diego game was a big-time game, nighttime game, those are really fun ones. And that Chief game, I was sitting on my couch, watching on TV, that hurts. So I’m really excited I’ve got a good chance to be back.”

Meanwhile, right tackle Tony Pashos (hip) worked with a trainer on a side field, though center/left guard Andre Gurode (quadriceps) and left tackle Menelik Watson (calf) were nowhere to be seen.

Here is the Raiders’ full injury report for Wednesday:

Did not participate: SS Tyvon Branch (ankle), C/G Andre Gurode (quad), LB Kaluka Maiava (hamstring), RT Tony Pashos (hip), LT Menelik Watson (calf).

Limited practice: CB Tracy Porter (shoulder), C Stefen Wisniewski (right knee).

Whither the Raiders' O-line?

October, 21, 2013
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ALAMEDA, Calif. -- No unit on the Oakland Raiders' roster needed the rest and relaxation afforded by the bye week more than the offensive line.

Consider that center Stefen Wisniewski (knee), center/left guard Andre Gurode (knee), right tackle Tony Pashos (groin/hip) and left tackle Menelik Watson (calf) were all either out before or knocked out during Oakland's loss at the Kansas City Chiefs last week. And that's not taking into account left tackle Jared Veldheer, who continues to rehab from his left triceps surgery in training camp.

“It was really good,” said left tackle Khalif Barnes, who had to make the switch from the right side at the dawn of the season with the injuries to Veldheer and Watson.

“We needed to get some bodies rested and some guys healed up ... it was a good week for us to sit back and try to get our bodies back, and things of that nature.

“I just know guys are in there busting their tails trying to get healthy and trying to get back. I'm not really sure. I just go by whenever they get back out there.”

In Monday's practice, Wisniewski was working with a trainer on a side field while Gurode, Pashos and Watson were nowhere to be found (Gurode, though, was later walking through the locker room without a noticeable limp).

As such, the first-string makeshift offensive line Monday morning was the unit that finished the 24-7 loss to the Chiefs: LT Barnes, LG Lucas Nix, C Mike Brisiel, RG Lamar Mady, RT Matt McCants.

Raiders coach Dennis Allen said he would not speak about injuries until later in the week.

“I'm hopeful we'll get some guys back (on the offensive line),” he said, “but we'll know more on Wednesday.”

Allen also insisted he was fine starting that same line against Pittsburgh.

“You look at the best football teams in the National Football League and they've got depth,” he said. “They've got guys that can go in, when called upon, and they can go in and play well. So the fact that we've had a lot of guys get some experience and get some playing time will help us down the road.”

The Raiders are hoping that guys like Mady and McCants and, perhaps, re-signed practice squad offensive lineman Jason Foster, add such depth.

Coming into camp, the projected offensive line was supposed to look something like this: LT Veldheer, LG Tony Bergstrom (IR and rehabbing LisFranc surgery on foot), C Wisniewski, RG Brisiel, RT Barnes.

Instead…

“We've kind of been doing it all year long with guys rotating and playing different spots but it's real tough when you do it at the center position,” Barnes said. “Especially when you have both centers go down. It's tough because you don't really work with that center on different types of timings, silent counts. But Mike [Brisiel] went in there and did a great job for [being] thrown into the fire.

“We've been trained … that one guy goes down, the next guy steps up. That stuff happens in the league every week to every team so it ain't just us. When it happens, you have to be able to step up and get it done.”

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