After missing the first four games of the season as the result of knee injury that required surgery, rookie left tackle Menelik Watson returned to practice on Wednesday according to Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle via Twitter:
Rookie tackle Menelik Watson back at practice first time after knee surgery
— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) October 2, 2013
With the team’s best offensive lineman, Jared Veldheer, going down with a torn triceps during training camp, the Raiders coaching staff had a giant hole to fill up front in order to protect up-and-coming quarterback Terrelle Pryor. Although many believed the loss of Veldheer would prove to be extremely costly for this team in terms of getting the protection to get things going offensively, Watson was able to come in and shoulder the load for arguably one of the team’s best players.
Despite doing better than expected while filling in for Veldheer, Watson struggled to stay healthy and ultimately went down with the knee injury that sidelined him for a month. Watson’s health may continue to be a concern for the Raiders moving forward, but as of right now this team will take any player that is able to play a few plays on the offensive line.
With Watson getting back on the practice field, the protection for Pryor heading into Week 5 against the San Diego Chargers may be much improved. Although Watson’s status still remains uncertain for Week 5, but if healthy enough to play he’ll likely replace Khalif Barnes as the starter at left tackle.