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Donald Penn injury offers opportunity for Raiders to see what they have in rookie David Sharpe; but will they utilize it?

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NFL: Oakland Raiders at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday night the Raiders lost their shot at a winning season. They also lost left tackle Donald Penn to a foot injury that will cause him to miss the team’s final two games.

When Penn limped off the field, the Raiders decided it best to slightly downgrade two positions instead of more significantly affecting Derek Carr’s blindside protection. To do that, they kept Marshall Newhouse in the game, moving him from right to left tackle and brought in Vadal Alexander to play right tackle.

There weren’t a lot of options other than that because rookie tackles David Sharpe and Jylan Ware were both inactive for the game, as they have been most of the season.

Sharpe has only been active for three games this season while Ware has yet to be activated for a game.

As a fourth round pick out of Florida, Sharpe is clearly in the team’s plans. He lined up at left tackle in the preseason, starting there for their final preseason game. And considering Penn will be 35 in April and has now suffered his second lower leg injury in a year’s time, the Raiders plans for his eventual replacement should be kicked into high gear.

These final two games offer an opportunity for the Raiders to get a preview of the talent they have in Sharpe before they head into the offseason when they will be faced with a lot of big decisions to make. Decisions that range from whether Penn would remain as the starting left tackle, or whether they may look to free agency or the draft, or even if fellow 2016 draft pick Jylan Ware might factor in.

The one potential sticking point for this idea is it could be a risky move to put an unproven tackle out there to protect your franchise QB. And it’s rather eery considering we’re heading into the exact week in which Carr’s fibula was snapped on a sack last season.

What it comes down to is if Sharpe has shown enough talent to be given his shot to prove himself in live regular season game action. If they think he has, giving him those snaps the next two weeks could be invaluable both for him and the team’s valuation of his potential.

Poll

Should the Raiders start David Sharpe at left tackle the final two games?

This poll is closed

  • 81%
    Yes, make use of this time
    (763 votes)
  • 18%
    No, too risky for Carr
    (172 votes)
935 votes total Vote Now