Editor’s note: This is the final part in a series that spotlights three Texans-Raiders matchups to watch Sunday, 1:25 p.m., at O.co Coliseum.
Texans DE J.J. Watt vs. Raiders LT Donald Penn
Tale of the tape:
Watt (99): 6-foot-5, 289 pounds, fourth season, Wisconsin
Penn (72): 6-foot-4, 340 pounds, ninth season, Utah State
Watt laid siege to the Washington football club in the regular-season opener, single-handedly destroying the attack with three tackles, a sack, five quarterback hits and four quarterback hurries. That was the latest example that Watt is undoubtedly the NFL’s best defender.
Penn has played Watt before, but it was a different version. He was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a bit younger himself, but Watt wasn’t the monster he is today. While Penn didn’t have a solid 2013, he’s started well and received good marks from Pro Football Focus. He’s proven solid as a run blocker and a pass protector in the preseason and the regular season opener against the New York Jets.
Watt will be his toughest assignment all season.
“I played the young Watt. I haven’t played the one we see now,” Penn said. “The new one is a tremendous player, probably the best in the league. Our work is going to be cut out for us. As far as he goes, that’s how far the team goes. I love matchups like that. It’s not going to be easy.”
It won’t be all Penn’s responsibility, either. That wouldn’t be right. The Raiders will use double teams with interior linemen and tight ends, offering running back support at times.
Allen’s ideal, clearly tongue-in-cheek scenario, however, isn’t a realistic option.
“I wish we could take all 11 and block him because sometimes I think that’s what it takes,” Allen said. “You watch the game last week and he wrecked the game offensively for Washington. Obviously, we’ve got to have a plan to deal with him, both in the run game and in the passing game. Really, you try to slow the guy down, and that’s really about all you can do. He is going to make some plays. He’s done it in every single game. What you try to do is you try to limit the amount of game-changing plays that he is able to make.”