Starters: LT Donald Penn, RT ???
Depth: Austin Howard, Marshall Newhouse, Vadal Alexander, Denver Kirkland, David Sharpe, Jylan Ware, Chauncey Briggs
Additions: Marshall Newhouse, David Sharpe (D-4), Jylan Ware (D-7)
Departures: Menelik Watson
At this point the only certainty here is Penn will be the starting left tackle. The 11-year veteran is entering the final year of his second 2-year contract with the Raiders. The 34-year-old returned to the Pro Bowl last season for just the second time in his career and first since 2010.
Behind Penn has been 2016 undrafted lineman, Denver Kirkland followed by rookie 7th round pick, Jylan Ware. That will be the depth chart heading into camp.
On the right side, it’s far less certain. There’s quite an open competition going on. Austin Howard was the starter part of last season, losing his job back to Menelik Watson once Watson was healthy. With Watson leaving as a free agent, Howard is currently the longest tenured Raiders right tackle. He is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, so it was Marshall Newhouse who was running first team through OTA’s.
Once the team hit minicamp, Newhouse was sidelined with an apparent knee issue, so last year’s 7th rounder Vadal Alexander was the first team right tackle, with rookie round four pick David Sharpe behind him.
Alexander appeared in nine games last season with five starts. Mostly he was a tackle eligible in jumbo packages, but also saw time filling in at right tackle and at left guard due to injuries.
“He played some last year for us, so we know he’s a good football player,” Del Rio said of Alexander. “He’ll obviously be in the mix as well.”
Sharpe figures to compete at right tackle this year and could be groomed as a potential replacement at left tackle for Penn, who will turn 35 next offseason.
“He has all the things we thought he had when we selected him,” Del Rio said of Sharpe. “... We think he has a bright future.”
Condition: Touch and go
There are a number of things that could happen by the time training camp rolls around. Austin Howard could be first team tackle in which case Newhouse would be the backup. Newhouse could run first team with Howard as the backup. Or Howard could be released once he fully recovers from his shoulder surgery. This could partially be contingent upon whether the team thinks Newhouse can be the guy.
Vadal Alexander and David Sharpe will both have the opportunity to make a push to start too. Alexander got the nod over Sharpe primarily by virtue of having been with the team last season. The team likes the versatility of all three to play either tackle spot as well as guard, so any of them could be the team’s utility reserve tackle/guard along with Kirkland and/or Ware.
“When it’s time to let them all compete then we’ll work our way through it,” Del Rio said of his group of right tackles.
Also see the condition of: Quarterback, Running back, Wide receiver, Tight end, Offensive guard, Center
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Touch and go