ALAMEDA – The Raiders offensive line has been re-energized by a week’s practice. It should operate at close to full strength on Sunday against the Atlanta, a feat accomplished with depth and improved health of this versatile group.
Right tackle Menelik Watson (groin) is the only starter expected to miss Week 2, and Austin Howard’s return from an ankle injury guarantees he’ll be spelled by someone with talent and experience.
Howard started all of last season at right tackle, and has 62 starts in 65 games played. He’ll fit right in on a line otherwise playing as originally constructed.
Howard lost a close position battle to Watson, but doesn’t represent a drop-off at the right tackle spot.
“He’s ready to play,” head coach Jack Del Rio said.
That will be the case despite center Rodney Hudson (knee) and right guard Gabe Jackson (knee) listed as questionable on Friday’s official injury report. Both starters are expected to play.
Watson and fellow offensive tackle Matt McCants (knee) were considered doubtful but are not expected to play.
That should set a starting lineup of Donald Penn, Kelechi Osemele, Hudson, Jackson and Howard arranged from left to right.
They’ll have interior lineman Jon Feliciano in reserve and seventh-round rookie guard/tackle Vadal Alexander, who was inactive last week, up and ready to go. The Raiders played with seven offensive linemen last week and burned through reserves, though an eighth guy would have to be promoted from the practice squad.
The Raiders have an open slot available should they need it. It is not mandatory they fill the roster spot, as they carried 52 players into a Week 1 win at New Orleans.
Also, running back Taiwan Jones was considered questionable with a concussion that kept him out of Wednesday’s practice.
Raiders Status Report
Doubtful: OT Menelik Watson (groin), OT Matt McCants (knee)
Questionable: RB Taiwan Jones (concussion), C Rodney Hudson (knee), RG Gabe Jackson (knee)
NOTE:RT Austin Howard did not receive an injury designation, meaning he will play
Falcons Status Report
Out: S Keanu Neal (knee), LB De’Vondre Campbell (ankle)
Questionable: DE Brooks Reed (shoulder)
NOTE: RB Devonta Freeman (quadriceps), WR Julio Jones (ankle), WR Mohamed Sanu (ankle), DE Dwight Freeney (not injury related) did not receive an injury designation, meaning they will play.