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Raiders OT David Sharpe practicing through pain for chance to prove he can contribute as rookie

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As the team’s fourth round pick, David Sharpe is determined to get on the field to begin the preseason.

Each year you hear of players who defy the NFL draft advisory committee’s recommendation and enter the draft as underclassmen. Raiders rookie offensive tackle David Sharpe did just that.

The 6-6, 343-pound tackle was given a 7th round grade by the advisory committee and told that he should stay at Florida for his senior season. Against this recommendation, he opted to declare for the draft.

So far, his choice has proven correct. The Raiders made him their fourth round selection. Now he must prove that not only was he worth a mid-round pick, but that he is ready for the pros right now as opposed to the view that he could use another year before he is ready.

His plans for making an early impact have run into a bit of a hurdle when he injured his left ankle in practice last week. As is often the case, a defensive lineman landed on his leg. Sharpe was slow to get up and as his offensive linemates trotted over to an adjacent field for the next set of drills, he slowly hobbled over to join them.

That day, he didn’t let the injury stop him, returning to play through it. But after practice, when he removed the tape from his ankle, it quickly swelled up. The next day the coaches shut him down.

“I had a lot of adrenaline going, so it wasn’t a problem,” Sharpe said of the injury. “It was a lot of pain, but I still wanted to suck it up and finish the day.”

He would miss several days of practice, and following the players’ day off on Tuesday was still among the walking wounded. After practice Jack Del Rio expressed a bit of frustration that five drafted rookies, including Sharpe, were not able to return despite the day off. Wednesday, four of those five were suited up for practice, Sharpe included.

“I’ve been wanting to get back,” Sharpe continued. “I’ve been trying to rush it. It’s a little frustrating not being able to be out here, so I’ve been getting as much treatment on it as I can. I tried to come back Tuesday, but it wasn’t feeling well, so I wanted to definitely get back today.”

It was fairly obvious from watching him, the Sharpe was not pain free. But he was giving it a go anyway. “When I plant it in the ground there’s a sharp pain, but it’s not bad.”

The team opens the preseason this Saturday and he wants the opportunity to take the field to start the process of proving he isn’t a project, he’s can provide instant results, should the Raiders need him right away.

“I wanted to get back out here and give it a shot, get back out there and get some reps in and work on it so I can get [to play] Saturday,” said Sharpe.

“Just put on film that I can help this team at an early stage. Although I was a junior in college coming out, definitely ready to play in the NFL.”

The offensive tackle position is in a bit of disarray at the moment with Donald Penn holding out for a new contract. Should it continue, Sharpe wants to be considered a viable option.

“Big opportunity,” he said. “I got an opportunity to help this team a lot this year. I’m trying to take advantage of it.”

A left tackle at Florida, Sharpe has been working at the right tackle, which he has been a transition for him, but he is proud of how much he has absorbed in the three months since he arrived in Oakland under the instruction of Offensive Line Coach Mike Tice.

“I’ve progressed a lot on the right side,” Sharpe said. “I played a lot on the left side in my college career and just playing right in practice has helped me a lot in practice and being able to be strong on both sides.”

In offseason practices, he was working with the second team at right tackle behind Marshall Newhouse. When Newhouse was injured, Vadal Alexander was moved to first team right tackle while Sharpe remained second team. That has also been the case in camp with Newhouse at left tackle and Alexander as the first team right tackle.

Newhouse is an 8-year NFL veteran and Alexander was with the Raiders last season as their 7th round pick. So Sharpe takes a backseat to them.

Come the game on Saturday in Arizona, he will have his shot in the front seat if he is ready to play. And those snaps get fewer and fewer heading into the third preseason game, so taking advantage of it early on is important. Being at practice this week raises his likelihood of that happening.