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Penn, Watson key Raiders' protection plans for Schaub

By By The Sports Xchange
Published On: Jun 09 2014 03:59:05 PM AKDT
Updated On: Jun 09 2014 03:59:05 PM AKDT

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- A wily veteran and a raw talent are scheduled to be the bookend protectors for Oakland Raiders quarterback Matt Schaub and a driving force in a power running game, and head coach Dennis Allen likes what he sees so far during the team's Organized Team Activities (OTAs).

As it stands, eight-year veteran Donald Penn will be the left tackle, while second-year player Menelik Watson is being given every opportunity to win the job on the right side.

Both have plenty to prove. Penn is coming off his worst season, giving up 13.5 sacks by one account, in an admittedly shaky quarterback situation with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tampa Bay waived him rather than pay his scheduled $6.5 million salary for 2014.

Watson, whose rookie season out of Florida State went askew because of calf and knee issues, is stringing together practices for the first time as a professional and showing athleticism and skill.

The two would serve as replacements for Jared Veldheer, who departed in free agency to the Arizona Cardinals, and Tony Pashos, the veteran signed just before the regular season a year ago.

For all the additions the Raiders made in free agency, the period started off horribly when Veldheer got away to Arizona as the Raiders zeroed in on a five-year, $42.5 million agreement with Rodger Saffold of the St. Louis Rams.

When Saffold failed a physical because of a torn labrum and went back to the Rams, offensive coordinator Greg Olson put in a good word on behalf of Penn, who was released the same day by the Bucs.

Olson was offensive coordinator for the Bucs while Penn was there.

"I look at it like this - everything happens for a reason," Penn said. "Oakland lost Saffold, I got released the next day, I had a great relationship with Olson. Oakland called me quick, and I wasn't ready to play right tackle yet."

Allen is convinced Penn can become the pass blocker he was in 2010, a season in which he gave up 3.5 sacks and made the Pro Bowl for the Bucs.

"Donald has great feet," Allen said. "He has been really good in pass protection. Oly (Olson) has had an opportunity to work with him and he kind of understands what the buttons are you have to push to drive him. I've been pleased with what I've seen out of Donald and I'm hoping for a big year out of him."

Penn has been working closely with Watson on technique and fundamentals. Watson got a late start in football after starting his college career at Marist as a basketball player before learning football in junior college in California and playing one season at Florida State.

"He's a tremendous athlete," Penn said. "I don't think Menelik knows how good he can be. I've been in his ear a lot. He's a guy I'm going to try and take under my wing."