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ALAMEDA – Raiders right tackle Menelik Watson will make his first start of the season on Sunday against San Diego. He formally slid into the front five on Friday, when right tackle Khalif Barnes was ruled out with a quadriceps injury.
It was a spot he was supposed to have all season, one the Raiders hope he’ll occupy in the long term. There were some hiccups along the way – last year with injury, this season with performance lulls -- but Watson is ready for an important game in his career.
“I'm always ready,” Watson said. “Even when I was doing scout-team stuff, I was taking those reps like they were first-team reps. I studied like I was still starting because you never know what happens. It hasn't changed my preparation. I'm still doing the things I always do.”
Interim head coach Tony Sparano believes he’s doing them better of late. Sparano, who was offensive line coach before his promotion, believes production waned near preseason’s end. It has picked back up over the last three weeks.
He had strong moments in the 48 offensive snaps following Barnes’ injury versus Miami, but there were mistakes sprinkled in that he must correct. Sparano often offers tough love to the second-year pro in an attempt to expedite his progress despite significant injuries that kept him out most of last season.
“He’s still a young player,” Sparano said. “When you look at Menelik based on what happened last year, you really have to treat him like a rookie in your approach to things. You’re starting all over again with him and he’s really done a good job that way and I think he’s getting better and better each week. He’ll have his hands full this week, it’s a big challenge.”
Some other injury notes from Raiders practice:
-- The Raiders have chosen to rest quarterback Matt Schaub’s arm during the regular season after doing something similar late in the preseason. He and Matt McGloin have split backup reps this week and before Schaub left the team to tend to a family issue.
Sparano said Schaub’s arm was fine, and the rest has done it some good. He would not say whether Schaub or McGloin would be the No. 2 quarterback against the Chargers. Starter Derek Carr is questionable with knee and ankle injuries, though he is expected to play.
-- Receiver Vincent Brown was added to the participation report after being limited with a hamstring injury.
-- Tarell Brown has a thumb injury, but he was a full participant all week.
Raiders Status Report
RT Khalif Barnes (quadriceps), CB Keith McGill (groin)
Sio Moore (ankle), QB Derek Carr (knee/ankle), FB Marcel Reece (quadriceps), WR Vincent Brown (hamstring)
CB Tarell Brown (thumb)
Chargers Status Report
RB Donald Brown (concussion), RB Ryan Mathews (knee), ILB Manti Te’o (foot)
WR Malcom Floyd (calf), D.J. Fluker (ankle), OLB Jarret Johnson (back/ankle), OLB Cordarro Law (ankle), C Rich Ohrnberger (back), S Darrell Stuckey (quadriceps), LB Reggie Walker (ankle)
WR Keenan Allen (quadriceps), OLB Jerry Attaochu (hamstring), ILB Donald Butler (shoulder), OLB Dwight Freeney (knee), TE Davis Johnson (knee/shoulder)