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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

  • Alex7

    looooooooong strider. and 6’6″? Nice.

  • Alex7

    similarly, would love if Kelvin Benjamin leaves FSU after this redshirt sophomore season. Same size as Beckham, crazy speed, and more physical.

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

    Benjamin has some shoddy hands sometimes. From what I have seen, but granted haven’t watched all of him. Will see tonight.

  • Alex7

    If you haven’t seen the Teddy Bridgewater 1st quarter TD pass from Thursday, have a look:

    http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=espn:10086866

  • 0ak R8rs

    Wow. They can’t even referee a halftime contest. Time expired, she threw the ball, they counted it. Unbelievable. Haha

  • J Hill

    LMFAO

    I thought the girl got robbed.

    How did she run out of balls at the end and ole boy had 2 left?

  • 0ak R8rs

    Miracle. Pryor could do that.

  • J Hill

    Again, I hope that would be the expectation for any player drafted early in rd 1. QB, WR, LT,DE, DT, CB etc.

  • 504 Raider

    DMAC was special at one time. Then Bernard Pollard ran him down and horse collard him from behind at Arrowhead. Then he became “Can’t Get Right.”

  • Raider O

    You expect every player drafted early in the 1st round to be a HOF player?
    Lower your expectations.
    You want them to be able to start immediately and have an impact.

  • 0ak R8rs

    There was two buckets. He had to step back too to get to the second bucket.

  • SnBG

    Oak, you don’t like Teddy either like you don’t like Manziel?

  • Alex7

    Teddy is sneaky athletic kinda like Luck. We think of him as a pocket passer because he’s so good at that, but he can move around. 4.7-40-time, just like Luck

  • plunkhead

    Who is Brian Jones of CBS sports? He is a entertaining talking head. He is the one who said “moves like a roach in a cereal bowl”

  • 0ak R8rs

    No. Haha. I have no problem w him. Just not that impressed by that particular play. Basically threw it up for grabs into broken coverage. Much more impressive when he steps up into the pocket and zips a 35 yarder down the seam. That’s all.

  • 0ak R8rs

    That was a good line last week. Haha.

  • Raider O

    Miss pass rushers are good prospects. I like Michael Sam.

  • plunkhead

    I cannot stand the giggling idiots on fox, nfl, cbs etc pre game shows. but I could listen to Jones all day. He is sharp, no nonsense

  • 0ak R8rs

    Looking forward to seeing Carr in a game that counts tonight. What’s the under/over? 110?

  • Raider O

    I thought Luck ran a 4.59 40.

  • Purvisman/Eternal Optimist

    Oh. Well, let’s bring some dirt in just for fun.

  • 0ak R8rs

    Wikipedia says this guy has paid his dues. Nfl for 7 years, retired in 98. Stuck on some AM station for years. First major gig this year on CBS sports it seems.

  • 0ak R8rs

    Well it is New Jersey. Plenty of dirt and fill to go around.

  • seymour bush

    Yeah, but the Doctor Pepper girl would have beat Pryor in that second half contest.

  • Purvisman/Eternal Optimist

    May want the EPA or a HazMat team to check it out first. At least make sure it doesn’t glow in the dark.

  • 0ak R8rs

    Perhaps…..

  • plunkhead

    cool story. radio and hard work is why he sounds so sharp. Good for him.

  • SnBG

    Like to see that game tonight but it will depend on my wife. I don’t want to subject her to too much football so maybe I’ll record it and watch it later.

  • 0ak R8rs

    I don’t like Gary Danielson as an an announcer. Never have. Some guys grow on me and I can start to really enjoy them, or at least be able to bear them. Collinsworth (smart and funny) Dierdorff (funny), even Theisman (everyone’s hero). But not Danielson. It’s like Gruden and him came from the same talking head school.

  • 0ak R8rs

    It’s probably gonna take 4 hours.

  • ghost to the post

    I’m actually looking forward to seeing Devante Adams of Fresno St. he is a young raw, powerful, talent. I actually hope he has a bad game so everyone in the world doesn’t fall in love with him.

  • SnBG

    I’m pretty tired of the NFLNet pregames shows. They’re so long that Eisen has to come up with all kinds of silly skits and Sapp gets on my nerves.

  • 0ak R8rs

    Yea. Only guy I like out of that lineup is Faulk. Only one ever shows Raiders love. Warner is a stand up guy too. Just not that interesting.

  • Raiders for Life

    He might declare for the draft, I don’t think Fresno St has a strong team lined up for next season. Hope to keep him on the West coast in Oakland.

  • lefty12

    LOL,shows how different people have different perspectives.I can’t stand Faulk due to his hatred of the Raiders.

  • 0ak R8rs

    I see him “lone wolf” on us all the time? I mean, no talking head can show us too much love. We suck. But he’s one of the better ones IMO.

  • lefty12

    Gotta admit i don’t see him often.I quit watching NFLN pre-game long ago because of Faulk,Sapp,and Eisen.I can’t stand any of them.

  • 0ak R8rs

    Understandable.

  • lefty12

    Danielson is one of those guys that believes the only college teams that can play football are SEC teams.

  • SnBG

    Gruden has become a cartoon and he kinda gets tiring. He is better than some of the past MNF announcers though and not as polarizing as Cossell

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

    In fairness to him, that’s all he covers at CBS

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

    Call me old fashioned, while this game is very entertaining, I like offenses that 3rd and 8 isn’t impossible or only negotiable through gimmick plays and all that.
    Both teams look completely lost on 3rd and 7, Auburn especially.

  • SnBG

    I think that’s OK because she will go to bed early and I’m a night person. and I can skip some of the commercials.

  • SnBG

    I think that’s OK because she will go to bed early and I’m a night person. and I can skip some of the commercials.

  • Alex7

    new post. was wondering why no one was chatting =)

  • SnBG

    Yep, it’s exciting when a team can get a first down on 3 and long.

  • nolarick

    In fairness to him, he’s right. Outside of the SEC, who is going to beat ‘Bama, or LSU, or Auburn, or A&M, or FSU, or ….

  • SnBG

    I guess you could then argue that college football isn’t worth watching because it can’t compete with the NFL.

  • lefty12

    Bull.Look at their record out of conference against teams besides your Tenn. Chattanoggas and Louisiana Lafayettes.Plus they never leave their beloved south.BTW,FSU isn’t an SEC team.

  • nolarick

    Do you really believe that either OSU could beat ‘Bama? Do you really believe that Fresno can beat LSU, let alone A&M? Who have they played? Once again, the SEC has cannibalized itself.