Pre-season Week 3 saw Raiders host the Green Bay Packers at the Oakland Coliseum. This game was Donald Penn’s first action back after rehabbing a lisfranc foot injury this off-season. Donald Penn not only has to get back in shape but also learn a new position, starting at Right Tackle for the first time in his career.
Penn has earned compliments for being a great teammate and giving Kolton Miller a chance to develop into a starting Left Tackle; Offensive Coordinator Greg Olsen even going so far as to call Penn “smooth” in his transition from left to right.
The game against the Packers was Penn’s true test and while some might say he “passed” it certainly wasn’t with flying colors. Here is a film breakdown of Penn’s day.
This pass set by Penn happened on the Carr bomb downfield to Amari Cooper. Notice how Donald Penn (playing right tackle) has his left foot back as if he’s still playing on the left side. Penn’s foot positioning gives up the outside and he loses balance trying to flip his hips in recovery. Shout out to Doug Martin showing veteran pass protection savvy by chipping the defensive end and helping Penn get back in position.
The exact same thing happened 2 seasons ago during Donald Penn’s first time at right tackle. Penn had to step in after the starter went down against the Saints in Week 1 of 2016.
Penn’s foot placement is wrong even before the snap, which is understandable considering he is switching positions mid-game. See how an almost identical rep happens here with Penn losing balance and relying on a tight-end for help. Until Penn gets his feet figured out, he will get himself in trouble like this. So for the time being, Gruden will likely have to continue to give Penn help with running-backs and tight ends staying in to block.
This was the worst rep from Penn on the day. Penn takes a vertical set and works his shoulders to the sideline. This opens up Penn’s chest for the defender to bull rush. Penn simply fails to anchor and flat out loses to the pass rusher.
This time Penn fails to identify Matthews screaming off the edge—credit to the Packer’s defensive coordinator for showing disguised looks. Penn once again is out of position and extending his arms outside his base. Penn gives just enough of a knudge for Cook to step up in the pocket but this is still counted as a hurry.
Penn improved as he got more time and played with much better technique by the 4th series of the game. Penn showcased his athleticism and strength in the run game a few times. One such play happened with Penn matched up against All-Pro Clay Matthews. Penn puts the clamps on Matthews who is no match once the block is secured.
Penn had other reps where he showcased his strength and athleticism like this play against Matthews. Most were in the run however and it remains to be seen how long the transition will affect Penn and how much Gruden will have to scheme around Penn’s current pass protection flaws.
+ Donald Penn still can push people around and showed off good power and upper body strength during a few blocks in the run game.
+ The savvy left tackle shows he has a few tricks up his sleeve, even when in bad position, that will help him survive this transition.
+ Penn played better as the game went on, really only struggled in his first series of the game.
— He is still struggling with transferring weight to his back foot. This is a tough transition after playing on the Left Side for more than a decade in the NFL. However making the same mistakes as 2 years ago is not the best sign.
— Penn played the worst of the starting 5 offensive linemen. His shortcomings right now must be schemed around and defensive coordinators will try to take advantage.