When stalwart left tackle Jared Veldheer went down with a torn triceps, a season that was already expected to be a rebuilding one for the Oakland Raiders, got even tougher. Veldheer is arguably the best player on the Raiders roster and his injury was one of the most impactful in the entire NFL.
But injuries lead to opportunities for others, and guys like Colin Kaepernick and Tom Brady have taken those opportunities and ran with them. Raiders rookie Menelik Watson could be the latest to join that list.
Watson got his very first start for the Raiders this past Thursday in one of the most hostile environments in the NFL against the Seattle Seahawks and was thoroughly impressive. So impressive in fact, that head coach Bruce Allen announced in a conference call that Watson will start at left tackle when the Raiders travel to Indianapolis for their regular season opener against the Colts.
“I would anticipate that Menelik Watson will be our starting left tackle for the opening game.”
Watson, the Raiders second round pick from Florida State, did not allow a single sack against the Seahawks. Even more impressive when you consider the fact that he has never played the left tackle position in his career. Allen heaped much praise on Watson to the media:
“I wanted to see if he would play physical and finish. I thought he did that. Obviously there’s still a lot of growth potential there but I think for a first time out, for a guy that hasn’t play in that position in that environment, I thought he handled himself extremely well.”
Who Watson will be protecting is still unknown at this point. While it seemed Matt Flynn was a shoe-in, Terrelle Pryor’s great preseason has made this a difficult decision. With the team looking for ‘playmakers,’ it could end up being Pryor. One thing is for sure, whoever ends up under the center in Indianapolis will have a budding star protecting his blindside.