Mark the calendar. As of week 9 of the 2013 NFL season, Raiders rookie second round pick set foot in his very first NFL regular season game. He was also active for the first time this season after recovering from a calf injury that had lingered and flared up twice since he initially injured it in the off-season.
The injury had him out all but the final day of training camp. He returned midway through camp but left after just ten minutes when he re-injured the calf.
He played in the team's final preseason game at left tackle and looked set to start there in place of Jared Veldheer who was placed on partial season injured reserve with an injured triceps that required surgery. That plan was thwarted when he suffered a knee injury in the week leading up to the season opener.
Just as he came back from the knee injury, he re-injured his calf... again. Now after all that, he finally played in a game. It occurred when right tackle Matt McCants left the game in the second quarter with a foot injury.
"It felt good," said Watson. "Right now I can't be happy about what happened out there. It was very frustrating but I am happy to be back out on the field, you know, it felt good. Good to get your hands on somebody, move some people around. I'm just real disappointed obviously by the result. It was a nice experience. You can't beat experience."
With his track record for the Raiders, the worry would be that he may be brought back too soon or just simply come down with another injury. For now, he at least made it through a little more than a half of regular season football.
"You get some things but you play through it," Watson said of his injury status. "Just trying to be careful with it, doing my rehab and stuff. When you're out there you just have to let loose. You can't worry about it going or anything so that's what I was trying to do out there."
Watson was the utility backup at both tackle spots but had been working exclusively at left tackle all week.
"I was prepared to go either way," said Watson. "If coach wanted to put me inside I was prepared. That's never an issue with me. Coach wants me left, coach wants me right, coach wants me inside, it doesn't matter."
Moving inside at some point is not out of the realm of possibility either. If he can stay healthy, the team should also have tackles Tony Pashos and Jared Veldheer back in the fold within the next couple weeks. Add Khalif Barnes and Matt McCants to that tally and there is suddenly a logjam at a currently depth deprived position. Someone among them is likely to move inside. But the Raiders will cross that bridge when they come to it.
For now, it's just good to finally see the team's second round pick take the field. He appeared to have a pretty solid game. Depending on the health of McCants and Pashos, it's possible that we see Watson again next week.