By Steve Corkran
Wednesday, September 18th, 2013 at 12:29 pm in Oakland Raiders.
ALAMEDA — The Raiders kicked off the on-field portion of their preparation for the Denver Broncos on Wednesday with a relatively healthy team.
The glaring exceptions are rookie offensive tackle Menelik Watson, guard Lucas Nix and strong safety Tyvon Branch. None of the three is at practice today, as expected.
Watson recently underwent surgery to repair damage to his knee. Branch reportedly broke a bone in his lower leg Sunday and is going to be out for an extended period of time. Nix suffered an ankle injury Sunday.
Nix at least was on the practice field, which bodes well for a speedy recovery. In the short term, you’re likely to see veteran Andre Gurode at left guard in the starting lineup.
The rest of the line is going to remain the same for now, too, with Khalif Barnes at left tackle, Stefen Wisniewski at center, Mike Brisiel at right guard and Tony Pashos at right tackle.
The Raiders aren’t alone in their need to mix and match players on their offensive line. The Broncos lost left tackle Ryan Clady for the season with a Lisfranc injury — hello, Darren McFadden and Jacoby Ford — and were forced to sign free agent veteran Winston Justice today.
Usama Young and Brandian Ross are being counted upon to fill the void created by the injury to Branch. So far, so good. Both played well against the Jaguars.
Of course, there’s nothing quite like the challenge of facing Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, which is what awaits Young, Ross and the Raiders defense Monday night.
Beyond that, the Raiders seem ready and eager to embrace the big stage against the Broncos.