Raiders line trying to mend after rough first week
ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) The Raiders are likely to be without starting right tackle Menelik Watson and a key backup for their home opener.
Watson missed practice Friday because of a groin injury suffered early in Oakland's opening week win over New Orleans. Matt McCants, who replaced Watson briefly, went down with a knee injury and has been sidelined since.
Both linemen are listed as doubtful on the Raiders injury report.
Austin Howard, who was inactive against the Saints with an ankle injury suffered in the Raiders final preseason game, is expected to start in place of Watson. Howard started 13 games at right tackle in 2015 after playing right guard the previous season.
''He's ready to go,'' Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said.
The Raiders season-opening win took its toll on the offensive line.
Watson and McCants' injuries set off a domino effect that wound up with Donald Penn moving from left tackle to right guard, left guard Kelechi Osemele moving to left tackle and Jon Feliciano coming off the bench to plug the gap at left guard.
Center Rodney Hudson and right guard Gabe Jackson also missed time this week with knee injuries but both made it through two consecutive days of practice and are questionable to play against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.
Del Rio noted earlier this week that the situation in New Orleans had gotten so dire that the Raiders were prepared to use tight end Lee Smith if another injury to the front five had occurred.
Oakland should be better prepared to handle things this week. Seventh-round draft pick Vadal Alexander, who was also inactive against the Saints, practiced at both guard and tackle during the preseason and is an option should more injuries occur.
''We're ready to adjust as we need to,'' Del Rio said. ''We've got good depth, have a good coach working the group. We'll be ready to roll.''
Despite all of the injuries and shuffling up front, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was not sacked and was hit only three times when dropping back to pass.
Part of that was due to Penn and Osemele, who continued to play well after changing positions.
Osemele, in particular, stood out and made a pivotal block that helped spring rookie running back Jaylen Richard free on his 75-yard touchdown. The 6-foot-5-inch, 330-pound was Oakland's prized free agent addition in the offseason after signing a five-year contract for more than $58 million.
''He's a violent football player,''' Carr said. ''One of, if not the most, violent football players I've ever been around, seen, played with, played against, all the above. You love for a guy like that to be protecting you. So, the run game and all that, it helps that but at the same time, I love that he's blocking for me too. It makes me feel safe.''
NOTES: KR/RB Taiwan Jones (concussion) practiced for a second straight day and is questionable.
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