As the Oakland Raiders finished preparations for their Sunday game against the Indianapolis Colts, the team announced that one key player won’t be taking the field.
Rookie tackle Menelik Watson will not be active for the season opener and a veteran tackle will be taking his place.
Newly signed tackle Tony Pashos will be anchoring the right side on the line. Head coach Dennis Allen declined to comment on the extent of Watson’s injury, but did say he felt good about the team as a whole:
“I feel good, I feel good. What’s a 10 (on a scale of 1-10)? What’s an 8? What’s a 9? That’s all relative. I feel good about the guys we’ve got in that room. We’re going to go to battle and go to war. … These guys have worked extremely hard and we’re ready to go.”
Another development on the offensive line is Jared Veldheer not yet being placed on the injured reserve list with designation to return, which was expected to happen on Tuesday.
This could be a sign that the team believes Veldheer could return to action before Week 8. It could also mean that the team doesn’t expect the left tackle, who tore his triceps during training camp, to return this season.
Allen told media during a Friday press conference that the team is ready to move forward despite the two injuries to Veldheer and Watson:
“Listen, it’s a factor. But, it is what it is. You have to move on, you have to move forward. No one is waiting around on anybody. It is the next-man-up philosophy. … That’s what you have to do.”
New cornerbacks Tracy Porter, Mike Jenkins and DJ Hayden will get a chance to face off against former Raiders receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey.
Heyward-Bey was cut by Oakland during the off-season, one of many salary cap casualties axed by general manager Reggie McKenzie.
Hayden will be starting his first NFL regular season game just 10 months after nearly becoming another type of casualty. Hayden tore a vein in his heart last November during a routine play at the University of Houston and nearly died.
Following his first preseason game Hayden said he is looking forward to the chance to play again:
“It felt good, I’m ready for the next one. We got a lot of work to do, there’s a long way to go, but I just want to go out there and get better each and every game.”
The Colts are heavily favored and will have second-year quarterback Andrew Luck under center. Chuck Pagano also returns to the helm as skipper following a bout with cancer.
The Indy defense appears to be sub-par — not unusual over the past 20 years — and Terrelle Pryor will get a shot at winning the Raiders’ QB job permanently.
Allen hasn’t officially named Pryor as the starter, but media reports have been swirling that the decision has been made and the team has been informed of the decision.
Allen cited “competitive reasons,” leaving some to wonder if he just wanted room to change his mind. The Raiders are the only NFL team that has not announced a starting quarterback.
Kickoff is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thanks to the dome at Lucas Oil Stadium, Raiders fans shouldn’t fear any weather-related delays such as the one in Denver on Thursday evening.