The Raiders have some injury issues at right tackle.
That’s nothing new.
It’s been a trouble spot since late last summer, when Menelik Watson was lost for the season with a torn Achilles’ tendon. Austin Howard played quality football for several months, never missing a snap, until he bowed to a knee injury in Week 14.
Both ailments required surgery, but Howard and Watson are rehabbing nicely and should return to 100 percent this offseason. Neither player may be ready for the April 18 start of the Raiders offseason program.
Head coach Jack Del Rio said Tuesday Howard would return ‘a little later in the offseason,” but that Watson could be ready right away.
Howard said last week on Twitter that his rehab “is going great and on schedule.”
When both players return to health, they’ll compete to start at right tackle. They went through a similar exercise last offseason, and Watson was in pole position when he got hurt in the preseason.
“Last year, Menelik was probably leading before his injury,” Del Rio said at the NFL owners meetings. “But once Austin got his chance, he really played well for us last year. And the more we go through the tape this offseason, the more you kind of appreciate what a nice job he did.”
Howard turned in one of his best seasons anchoring the right side. He allowed just 22 pressures all season, only four were sacks, and had solid moments as a run blocker.
Watson, a second round pick from the 2013 draft, has been hurt several times as a professional. Coaches remain intrigued by his athleticism and potential considering the Englishman’s relative lack of football experience.
On an offense where most every starting spot is locked up, right tackle could be an intriguing position battle during camp. Either player could fit in well on an offensive line expected to be one of next season’s best.