Although the Oakland Raiders had a successful return to greatness during the 2016 season, the entire roster was left with a bitter taste. The injury in Week 16 to quarterback Derek Carr left the offensive unit without their leader, which led to their disappointing Wild Card loss to the Houston Texans.
The offensive line of the Raiders is one of the best, but stumbled on that devastating play. Offensive lineman Donald Penn took the hit to Carr personally, taking blame for the hit after the game. Alas, the Raiders have emerged into the 2017 offseason, with a renewed sense of focus during the OTAs.
Penn took part in a media session with the reporters following their second day of OTAs, commenting on a variety of topics. When discussing the end to the 2016 season, Penn stated that it could be viewed as a motivating factor for 2017, via Raiders.com:
“The good thing is, when you’ve got that bad taste in your mouth out here, it makes you work harder. It makes you put in extra work because that taste is still in there and you don’t want to have that taste anymore. It’s good having it now because we’re working hard and putting in that much more work.”
The Los Angeles native also got in depth about the offensive unit, which received a major boost thanks to the additions of Marshawn Lynch, Jared Cook and Cordarrelle Patterson. Another important note is that the Raiders promoted Todd Downing to become the new offensive coordinator of the Raiders.
Downing has worked in close proximity with Carr, as the two have formed a strong bond to work with. All signs point to a healthy return for Carr, in order to work in cohesion with Downing and this improved offense. Penn commented on what Downing has provided to his team, adding to head coach Jack Del Rio’s professional mentality:
“He’s doing so much stuff that you guys can’t even see with D.C. and us. He’s letting us be us. He’s making us come in and says it’s time to work, when it’s not time to work we can relax and have a good time. But, when it’s time to work, it’s work. He’s on top of everything. When he’s in the meetings, he’s telling everybody what to do. I’m used to that, but I just like T.D.”
Penn is a two-time Pro Bowler, earning the title as one of the best offensive lineman in the NFL during his 10-year career. The Raiders offensive line led the NFL is least sacks allowed, with Carr only getting sacked 16 times in 15 games played.