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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

  • J Hill

    Where do these Missouri DEs project in the draft?

  • J Hill

    And what about this RB with the reconstructed knee?

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

    Cool story.
    Not sure about draftable. You going to draft him late and trot him out to compete on ST’s?
    Doesn’t seem like a good idea.

  • Raiders for Life

    As far as big FA receiver signings go, Decker is about the best out there and Denver isn’t going to let him go.

  • J Hill

    How does a beast DE on a top 5 team drop to rd 2?

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

    I dropped a qualifying “prob”.
    Not a top 20 pick, at least at this stage in the process.

  • J Hill

    OAKLAND RAIDERS ‏@RAIDERS2m

    The Oakland Raiders have signed CB Chance Casey, S Shelton Johnson and LB Marshall McFadden to the active roster.

    OAKLAND RAIDERS ‏@RAIDERS1m

    The Raiders have placed S Usama Young and LB Kaluka Maiava on injured reserve, and have waived DL Brian Sanford.

  • Gdog

    He could easily bring in 4 or 5 blue chippers, but I think you are spot on. He will bring in two. Maybe even one. The team will be VERY deep though with dumpster diving one year contracts… perhaps as many as 15 of them?

  • Breaking_Black

    Sanford’s gone??
    AKA Heart & Soul??

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

    Bummer for Young, seemed to look good whenever he played.

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

    Gaines is the CB who is bad azz, but Auburn doesn’t throw it much so not a good showcase for him.
    Completely punked Mike Evans last week, by the 3rd quarter Evans looked like a man wanting to quit.

  • Sir Raider Duck, OMS

    Maybe. I have no objection to those kinds of deals, either. You can find out who works well with our coaching staff and scheme, etc, without a long-term commitment.

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

    I like that Washington dude at WR.
    Senior

  • J Hill

    Got away with one there.

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

    Not even close to a catch.

  • J Hill

    The kicker touched it first

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

    Never understand why the DE just stands there.
    They can disrupt the handoff it would seem at times. Not like they are switching up the snap count or anything.

  • SnBG

    Who knows what Reg will do but I’m saying we need that franchise QB. If the staff doesn’t think MM is going to a franchise QB, and I don’t see him being one, then we better get one.

  • J Hill

    Any 1st rd talent on this Auburn team other than the LT?

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

    Ford on the D-line?
    Not sure if he is a 1st rounder.

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

    Dude fumbles a lot
    Clear weakness of both teams is the QB

  • Rico Stifler

    I wanna see Chance Casey get some playing time. I liked what I saw out of him during the preseason.

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

    Damn Ealy is awesome.
    Maybe he is a first rounder there J

  • Rico Stifler

    Roach is signed to a 4 year deal…

  • Rico Stifler

    I can see RM signing Hardy, Mack and Decker and then bringing in a few on deals similar to what Roach and Maiava got (4-years 16M to 3 years 6M).

    The biggest question for this FA is; Will Graham hit the open market?

  • Rico Stifler

    Don’t know if he declares this year. Read he is expected to be a first rounder in the 2015 draft.

  • Rico Stifler

    They could as they still have Thomas and Welker.

  • Jim Jesus

    Dude you have some pretty good takes but do you know any other songs? LOL

  • Sir Raider Duck, OMS

    AWESOME! That guy’s a baller.

  • Rico Stifler

    Hardy might get tagged, but Johnson is as good as gone. Cincy gave big deals to DE Dunlap and DT Atkins this past offseason and they used a 2nd round pick on Margus Hunt.

  • seymour bush

    Auburn is averaging about 40 yards per rush attempt.

  • Rico Stifler

    2 sucks, he could likely be a draft day trade. 14 would be a solid back up, but that is it. It’d be a tough choice between Mack and Adams, if he declares, if both are still OTB with our pick and Barr and Watkins is gone.

  • Rico Stifler

    Yeah. I liked the signing when I heard we signed Roach. He is signed to a 4 year, 16M deal….

  • J Hill

    How is this RB not a 1st rd prospect?

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

    RB are not really 1st round prospects anymore

  • Sir Raider Duck, OMS

    Exactly. Their performance is too hard to predict, they’re replaceable, and most of them get hurt and burn out in a couple of years.

  • SnBG

    Wearing it out hey? lol

  • SnBG

    That would fit into Reggies draft philosophy on RBs. Unless they are real studs he doesn’t think you take one in the first,

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

    Is Franklin wearing a choker?

  • 0ak R8rs

    This auburn game is a blast. But these referees r complete sht. Can’t believe these douche bags got an SEC Championship. Supposed to be the best of the best. They should all be sent home at half time.

  • Raider O

    It depends on the RB, but it’s hard to justify a 1st round pick especially an early one on a RB unless he is special.

  • SnBG

    Ealy is thought by WFB to go 16 to the Giants

  • 0ak R8rs

    Playing the youth. They don’t expect to win out? Lmfao.

  • 0ak R8rs

    I hope we resign him. Or at least, if we don’t, I hope it’s because he and Ross and Woodson got replaced (don’t think Woodson will resign).

  • J Hill

    Wouldn’t you say all early round picks should be considered special?

  • 0ak R8rs

    Umh. It’s turf.

  • SnBG

    I was looking at WFB when this RB talk started and they don’t have one RB projected to go in the 1rst rnd 2014 draft and I think they only have one going in the 2015 draft in the first rnd.

  • 0ak R8rs

    Sounds about right. Things have changed. RBs r like PCs now. Throw it away every 2 or 3 years and get a new one. Plenty to choose from.

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

    Beckham has the physical attributes to be a 1st round prospect in 2015.
    Looks like AJ Green running around

  • Raider O

    We are talking AP special. You want an impact player in the 1st round, but special players like AP or Megatron are hard to find. Complete package.
    Size
    Speed
    Work ethic
    Production
    PB
    HOF