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Khalif Barnes still out, Menelik Watson to start at right tackle for Raiders

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Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports

It's Friday, the day of reckoning for those who will and will not play on Sunday. One such player is Khalif Barnes who has missed practice all week with a quad injury and was out again today according to media present at Raiders practice. Thursday Tony Sparano intimated Barnes' absence would signal he won't play Sunday.

"Well there's concern right now that [Barnes] wasn't out there today, so we'll see where he is tomorrow and we'll continue to play it by ear here with Khalif right now, but he hasn't practiced for a couple days here. Obviously, that doesn't look great." Sparano said.

Menelik Watson replaced Barnes in week four when Barnes went out with his quad injury. Watson has also has run with the first team in Barnes' place all week.

"He's getting better and better," Sparano said of Watson. "He's still a young player. When you look at Menelik based on what happened last year, you really have to treat him like a rookie in your approach to things. You're starting all over again with him and he's really done a good job that way and I think he's getting better and better each week. He'll have his hands full this week, it's a big challenge. We'll see what happens here as we get going here towards the end of the week with Khalif, but he'll be involved in the game."

Watson was the Raiders' second round pick (42nd overall) in the 2013 draft, but was set back by a calf injury that kept him out of training camp and the early part of his rookie season. He then suffered a knee injury and ended up appearing in just five games as a rookie.

Due to missing most of his rookie season, the second-year pro has played just two full seasons of organized football -- one year at Saddleback Junior College and one season of division one football at Florida State. He is still very raw and has struggled against NFL pass rushers.

There is no more time for Watson to acclimate to the NFL. With the timetable for Barnes' return uncertain, Watson will have a opportunity to show the Raiders he can be their present and future at right tackle just they drafted him to be.