Donald Penn has waited a long time for this. After nine long years, he was supposed to make his first start in a playoff game. A ten-year career without missing a game and starting 156 straight. He will be watching hopelessly from the sideline as the team he helped get to the playoffs takes the field without him.
That has to hurt much worse than his knee injury ever could.
In the moments following the Raiders made it official that he would be out versus the Texans, Penn took to twitter to ensure his fans of what they already knew -- that he did all he could to be able to take the field with his teammates Saturday, going on to say he was “in tears” over not being able to play.
I did everything I could 2 play tomorrow I mean everything in tears right now haven't missed a game my entire career lost 4 words— Donald Penn (@DPENN70) January 6, 2017
No doubt his absence will be felt. Penn also returned to the Pro Bowl this year for the first time since 2010. He went most of the season without having given up a sack.
He suffered his knee injury late in last week’s game against the Broncos. He returned for the final play of the game, but it was clear he wasn’t right. Von Miller drove him into the back of Connor Cook as a rusher came from the opposite side for the strip sack.
Menelik Watson stepped in for Penn during the few snaps he missed, moving over from his right tackle spot. He will likely do that again with Austin Howard returning to start at right tackle.
In addition, the Raiders utilize a lot of rookie Vadal Alexander in jumbo packages to help with blocking duties.