SEATTLE -- Menelik Watson hadn’t played left tackle before Thursday night. He hadn’t practiced at the position before last week and has done so only once in pads.
In a cruel twist of fate, the second-round pick’s debut came at NFL’s loudest stadium.
Welcome to the league, rook.
Watson clearly wasn’t fazed during a 22-6 preseason loss to the Seattle Seahawks that, individually speaking, didn’t go too bad.
[RECAP: Seahawks 22, Raiders 6]
If you nit pick, flaws can be found. Context excluded, Watson played pretty well.
“I didn’t see guys running around him left and right,” head coach Dennis Allen said. “I didn’t see him make a lot of mental errors. I think that, for the first time out, in this tough environment, he gave us something solid to improve on.”
Whether it’s a good enough showing to start at left tackle remains uncertain. The Raiders held out hope that Watson would play well enough to replace Jared Veldheer at left tackle while he’s recovering from a partial triceps tear.
Such expectations may not be realistic. They may not be fair.
Alex Barron has been lackluster in that role, which prompted the coaching staff to throw a Hail Mary, accelerate Watson’s rehab, and throw him into the fire.
Success is relative in circumstances such as these, and it may not equate to solid play against a first-teamer over four quarters. But the Raiders have something in Watson, whether it’s now or later, at left or right tackle.
Watson took one thing from Thursday’s game: That he has to get better.
“There’s a lot of room for improvement, which in itself is a good thing,” Watson said. “I felt comfortable in my assignments and what I was asked to do, but I needed to do better in several instances, especially against the run.
“I don’t think I was out of sorts or anything. I know I’ll see a lot of mistakes on the game film, but that in itself will be a good learning experience. The whole week has been a plus, and this game definitely gives me something to build on.”