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Watson learns the hard way about being a pro

Menelik Watson missed a day of practice this week due to illness, which hardly qualifies as news given the amount of time the Raiders’ second-round draft pick has spent rehabbing instead of playing football.

He injured a calf in the days leading up to training camp, and spent the entire month in Napa working with the training staff. There was an encouraging half of football as the starting left tackle in the preseason finale against Seattle, followed by arthroscopic knee surgery which put him out again.

When Watson returned, he reinjured the calf.

“I couldn’t have envisioned a worse scenario coming into my rookie year,’’ Watson said.

Because of his various injuries, Watson has been active for only three games with the Raiders (4-8) in Week 14 facing the New York Jets (5-7) Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

The Raiders have gotten precious little out of their top two draft picks, with cornerback D.J. Hayden on injured reserve following sports hernia surgery and having dealt with medical issues relating to his near fatal ruptured inferior vena cava more than a year ago.

Watson, at least, has four games to play and his hopeful of being involved in the Raiders “jumbo’’ package as an extra blocker against the Jets.

“From here, I’ve got to make a name for myself,’’ Watson said. “I’ve got to make an imprint on the league and make sure that people understand that next year, when I’m back and healthy, that I’m someone that you’ve got to think about when you game plan. That’s what I’m hoping for.’’

Watson’s size (6-foot-5, 315) and athleticism borne of a background that included basketball, soccer and boxing while growing up in Manchester, England were too intriguing for the Raiders to pass on even though he had limited football experience at Saddleback Community College and Florida State.

It turned out that no amount of raw skill would prepare Watson for the rigors of the NFL.

“Coming in as a rookie, you don’t arm yourself with a dietician, a nutritionist, a masseuse, all the things you need to keep your body moving, in shape, for the rest of the season,’’ Watson said. “You don’t come in expecting to get hurt. I came in pretty much unprepared in terms of how to take care of my body off the field. It kind of came back to hurt me.’’

The injuries came in a vicious cycle _ with issues cropping up because Watson tried to come back too soon.

“I was not waiting for things to heal, then I’d come back and I’d be overcompensating because my whole body was out of whack,’’ Watson said.

Raiders coach Dennis Allen said Watson and other rookies learn the grind of being an NFL player goes far beyond practicing and getting into a playbook.

“It’s no longer just a game that you play, it’s a profession,’’ Allen said. “There’s a lot of things that go along with that, other than what everybody sees in terms of X’s and O’s.

“It’s about being a real pro, being able to take care of your body and not only handle your stuff on the field, but handle your stuff off the field.’’

Watson has tapped into veteran resources such as running back Rashad Jennings, a fitness fanatic, and guard Mike Brisiel, an eight-year veteran who is often injured but usually manages to get himself ready to play.

The daily routine for Watson now includes an earlier arrival which includes a hot tub, stretching and taping.

“Rashad was telling me he’d try new things and all the vets would laugh at him because some of the stuff he would do would be out of the ordinary,’’ Watson said. “You have to find out what works for you and what doesn’t, and trust yourself.’’

– Jennings was limited in practice made the trip to East Rutherford, N.J. and is listed as questionable but still hasn’t been cleared to play following a Thanksgiving Day concussion. He will be further evaluated Saturday.

Players who are out and not making the trip include running back Darren McFadden (ankle), wide receiver Denarius Moore (shoulder), linebacker Kaluka Maiava (calf), Brisiel (knee), running back Jeremy Stewart (knee, ankle), safety Usama Young (stinger) and safety Tyvon Branch (ankle). Branch was initially listed as questionable but downgraded to out before the team departed.

Jason Hunter, who missed two games with a foot injury, will reclaim his starting position at defensive left end with Vaughn Walker moving back inside to tackle.

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Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • 1960AutumnWind

    Borttles would fit in well here used to WRs that drop balls!

  • Raider O

    All is well brother. Wife is moody lately. God help me. Everything I do is not right or not good enough. lol
    I want to play FSU.
    The OSU wins against FSU.
    Go Buckeyes!!!!

  • Sir Raider Duck, OMS

    Just don’t make the big, big (but oh-so-tempting) mistake: “Honey, what can I say that WON’T make you yell at me?”

  • Raider O

    Thx bro. You are a good friend and a great Monkey.

  • Raider O

    I made a bigger mistake. We were at the hospital yesterday doing NST. I asked if she wants to go whale watching this season, she said no with a lot of attitude, so I said “that’s ok. We can watch you”.
    Lol

  • Sir Raider Duck, OMS

    How many hours later did you regain consciousness?

  • Jim Jesus

    I am not that emotionally invested in Auburn just some history from when I was stationed there in the A.F. Watched Bo, Tommie Aggie, Lionel James play football and Sir Charles on the hard wood. Had to root for the team Bama fans hated just how I roll. Same as now, that’s why I like the U instead of B.Y.U.

  • Jim Jesus

    Bad move Bro bad move. LOL

  • kuhlest

    Boyd is only 6’1″ 225lbs but he is good….think R. Wilson

    Derek Carr is 6’3″ 220 lbs quick release, 3 yrs of starting exp.

    Bortles- 6’4″ 235lbs strong arm, accurate, athletic

    Mannion – 6’5″ 220lbs has thrown the ball all over the park this year

    seems there is some good QB size in this draft to me…

  • Raider O

    I know. The Nurse laughing made it worse. She gave me the evil monkey look. I knew I was in trouble so I tried to make things better by saying people can’t tell she is 7 months pregnant (which is true), and I made fun of my weight, but it was too late.

  • kuhlest

    maybe….McGloin has a chance to prove himself and capable of doing what is needed…..Pryor’s decision making is too slow for consistent NFL success

  • Raider O

    She needed me to drive, so I was ok physically. Mentally I was hurt after a few hours of complaining about everything I do.

  • Raider O

    I like Auburn, but I want to play/ defeat FSU so I don’t have to hear the excuses.

  • Jim Jesus

    Would send a message. Blog would be 50/50

  • https://twitter.com/MimiPeepeechimi Just Fire Baby

    O/U was 57 or 58 in that OSU/OK game.
    If you saw the last play you had to be ripping your hair out if you were on one of those sides.
    LMFAO!!!!!

  • Carl weathers

    “You don’t come in expecting to get hurt. I came in pretty much unprepared in terms of how to take care of my body off the field. It kind of came back to hurt me.’’

    “I was not waiting for things to heal, then I’d come back and I’d be overcompensating because my whole body was out of whack,’’ Watson said.

    What the hell are the trainers in the team for if their not getting players ready or prepared for the season and off injury???

  • J Hill

    There is going to be a good QB available in rd 2.

    Question is do we give up on 2 and 14 already?

    Add Barr, Mack, or Clowney in the draft and sign either Hardy or Johnson in FA.

    And the best WR on the board in rd 2 to pair with Moore, Holmes, and Streater.

    Those moves right there have us challenging for the division next year.

  • willy91137

    Do you bet on the pros who are just college

  • J Hill

    There is going to be a good QB available in rd 2.

    Question is do we give up on 2 and 14 already?

    Add Barr, Mack, or Clowney in the draft and sign either Hardy or Johnson in FA.

    Add the best WR on the board in rd 2 to pair with Moore, Holmes, and Streater.

    Those moves right there have us challenging for the division next year.

    If 2 and 14 phugg it off, we’ll have a shot at Winston or Mariotta.

  • r8ter4evr

    I thought of that when I saw that play just when you thought it was under!!!!

  • Jim Jesus

    Thank you. Seems like our trainers have been questionable these last few seasons. Is it them or the players or both?

  • https://twitter.com/MimiPeepeechimi Just Fire Baby

    I just follow the lines a lot. I had a taste last week with wifey in Vegas for a few days.

  • J Hill

    What FAs are going to flock to Oakland for the $?

    Seems like agents would be blowing up our phones at 12:00:01am the day FA opens.

  • seymour bush

    Going to be an icy mess in the new Meadowlands tomorrow.

  • lefty12

    I think it would be fitting to just cut him-now!

  • https://twitter.com/MimiPeepeechimi Just Fire Baby

    Do you use any online places or do you live in Nevada? You seem to follow this stuff a lot.
    I hear lowvig.com is the new best way, but not sure. Sports Interaction I used to use but they are bogus on the payouts now.

  • seymour bush

    I have heard that too many times on this blog. Bring David Shaw or Bill Cowher or Peyton Manning here. It’s all about the money. Uh, I hate to say it, but most guys in the position to call their shot, already have more money that they need. It’s the guys who say “it ISN’T about the money”, that are about the money. And we have had too many of those check cashers here for too long.

  • Jim Jesus

    Would seem a bit spiteful but personally I don’t give a phugg! “It’s a production business” what has he done for us lately, I am sure he has nothing to contribute on the locker room either.

  • Carl weathers

    I think they pent too much time worrying about the condition of the grass in napa than the players.

  • J Hill

    You think Hardy or Johnson would end up being check cashers?

  • Sir Raider Duck, OMS

    They will be. The trick is for Reggie to sign guys who won’t suddenly go soft and lazy once they get their big paychecks. That’s also why, IMHO, most of Reggie’s money will be spent re-signing some of our guys on those one-year deals. I’d hope Mike Jenkins, Vance Walker and Nick Roach (if he was on a one-year deal) would be first.

  • Jim Jesus

    The grass the players were smoking in the car on the way out the parking lot LOL. Did they ever figure out who was the culprit?

  • 0ak R8rs

    There’s some truth to that. Except even the highest paid guys always need/want more. Most of them r smart enough to know they need to get all they can during their 6-10 years of they have any chance of maintaining half of their current lifestyle for the rest of their lives. I used to get pissed off at guys like Revis. So greedy. But he plays hard. So IMO, get all you can Darrell.

  • J Hill

    I can see us resigning most of our guys, but there will certainly be some upgrades.

    Safe to say there will be $ thrown at the pass rush.

  • Carl weathers

    Never heard about it, I just know they made a big stink about a new lawn maintenance guy that was a raider fan, BFD grass is grass, I played on fields with potholes and guys never got seriously hurt. I think players today spend too much time in the gym worrying about how they look with their shirt off rather than training to play football.

  • https://twitter.com/MimiPeepeechimi Just Fire Baby

    That was funny.

  • https://twitter.com/MimiPeepeechimi Just Fire Baby

    Let’s not forget about the state tax issue with California.
    The whole chatter yesterday was that Cano basically got an extra 20 million dollars since he went to Washington, and that played a big part in his decision.
    We got to pay a smidge more than most places, and about 10% more than Florida, Washington and Texas teams to be even on the after tax income.

  • Sir Raider Duck, OMS

    I would expect two big FA signings at most: a premier pass-rusher and a big soft-handed passing target. Everything else will be the usual Reggie McKenzie One Year “Prove It” Specials.

  • Purvisman/Eternal Optimist

    Seems so. They got a heated field? Could be a mud bowl.

  • J Hill

    The Jags have $ to compete.

    Not sure about teams in those other states.

  • https://twitter.com/MimiPeepeechimi Just Fire Baby

    From the Jets blog:

    “A slight chance of rain and snow after 3pm (EST). Mostly cloudy, with a high near 36. Chance of precipitation is 20%.”

  • kuhlest

    no…they all say its a deep class, ,aybe no true #1 pick but plenty of 1st -3rd round guys that have NFL starting abilities.

  • kuhlest

    Mannion, McCarron, or Bortles in the 2nd/3rd rd are shhyytt???

  • kuhlest

    he has top 5 stats in the country against SEC competition ….he seems to have enough of whatever shelf you need….but I am skeptical about his style and size in the NFL.

  • J Hill

    I’d agree with 2 FAs.

    Might be 2 defensive guys though. 3rd down defense HAS to be a priority.

    Will the Giants franchise Justin Tuck?

  • kuhlest

    he gives his body up on every play…he needs to learn to get what’s there and slide, save himself for the next play

  • Jim Jesus

    I’ll be here all week. Thanks.

  • Sir Raider Duck, OMS

    Good question. He’d be a good guy to go after.

  • seymour bush

    No, I think those two guys are hard working players that deserve to get paid. One of them should get tagged.

  • https://twitter.com/MimiPeepeechimi Just Fire Baby

    Missouri has a beast DE (strip-sack already), WR Washington, and a CB that are all draftable, and prob 2-5th rounders, IMO.
    For the Semi-Pro scouting department.