The Raiders drafted Menelik Watson with the 44th overall pick in the 2013 draft to be the team's next anchor at right tackle. He was expected to compete with Khalif Barnes this season and hoped to replace him at some point. What he and the Raiders didn't anticipate was him starting at left tackle. Mainly because it's something he's never done in his life. Now he is about to start at the position.
He returned from injury on the final day of training camp and got some snaps at left tackle. The coaches must have seen enough in that one practice to see how he does in a game situation because other than that, they just have what he did in non-contact practices in OTA's and minicamp.
"We've got to see him go out and play," said Dennis Allen. "Obviously we saw a lot of things on tape. We saw a lot of things early in the offseason program that we really liked. That got us excited, but we really haven't had a chance to see this guy in pads and see what he's going to do in game situations. I think this will be a great challenge for him. Seattle is very talented up front. They've got a lot of speed that comes off the edges. They play extremely hard on defense. It'll be a great opportunity for him and for us to get a good evaluation, see where he's at."
"Not too much thought's gone into it from my perspective," said Watson on what the Raiders have seen from him. "Jared went down so I knew there's probably be some shifts and I told Coach Sparano ‘wherever you guys need me to play, I'll be ready'. They're trusting me to play the left tackle position. It's a privilege and I gotta take it serious and make sure I'm ready to play."
"I think it was a pretty successful day there considering it's my first time playing, but I gotta look at the corrections and fix the mistakes for tomorrow."
When asked how much experience he had at left tackle, he said flatly "None". In his one season at Florida State? "None". In two seasons at Saddleback junior college? "None." Before that he played basketball.
"Played a little off tackle with Kyle Long in junior college but none," Watson added. "It's a new experience but it's fun. Just like when I stepped out for the first time at right tackle. It kind just comes natural. You got guys coming off the ball screaming. It's very technical. Things happen a lot quicker on the left too. And, you know, obviously it's the blind side so you have to be doubly about your wits. I gotta get in there and watch the film and study hard tonight when I get home."
Matt Flynn was sacked six times in the past two games working with the first team offense with Alex Barron in at left tackle. He will not play in this game due to tendonitis in his arm and with the Raiders experimenting at left tackle, he is probably lucky he's not playing. Not to say Watson can't do it, but there will be growing pains stepping into a crucial position like left tackle for the first time ever in a loud, hostile environment against a tough defense in Seattle.
Good thing Terrelle Pryor can run because he could be doing a lot of it in this game.