Filed for print . . .
So far, so good for Menelik Watson.
The second-year offensive lineman has made it through the offseason and the first two practices healthy as the first-team right tackle, a stark contrast to a year ago when a calf injury left him sidelined.
What followed for Watson were knee issues and a re-injury to his calf. In the end, a second-round draft pick who was named the starting left tackle on little more than raw ability and very little practice time ended up being mostly a frustrated spectator.
Watson has tried to keep things low key in Year 2, focusing on building up his body, although he did a recent BBC media tour in England related to the Raiders game in London on Sept. 28. (He was born in Manchester, England).
Although cordial and loquacious while talking to reporters Saturday, he plans on keeping to himself more often in 2014.
“It’s really been about action and not about talking,’’ Watson said. “Coming up, nobody knew who I was back then and it was all about action. I’m just trying to get back to that.’’
After playing just one season of junior college ball at Saddleback College and one year at Florida State, Watson conceded he was not ready physically for the rigors of the NFL.
“In college and junior college it kind of flew by so fast I wasn’t thinking about my body, I was thinking about learning the game,’’ Watson said. “As a professional, you need this body. It’s a job . . . I love this game. It was a lot to have it taken away from me last year.
“This is a new year. Last year is behind me.’’
The Raiders line since the offseason has remained constant, with Watson on the right side joined by former Jets tackle Austin Howard at right guard. Stefen Wisniewski is at center, with veteran Khalif Barnes at left guard (pushed by rookie Gabe Jackson) and free agent Donald Penn at left tackle.
“It’s a totally different feel,’’ Watson said. “You don’t feel like you’re out there as an individual. You feel like you’re out there as a group.’’
– Linebacker Kaluka Maiava missed practice with a hamstring strain and cornerback Tarell Brown did not complete practice because of an illness.
– The Raiders will hold their first padded practice Sunday.
“Tomorrow is the first day we really play football,’’ Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. “I think everybody gets excited about the first day in pads, but we’ve got to maintain our focus every day and get better and not worry about whether we’re in pads or not in pads.’’
– Running back Maurice Jones Drew has been working with the punt returners and Allen won’t rule out using him there. Jones-Drew has been sure-handed, although he struggled with a booming Marquette King punt.
“I had a mishap today and everybody got on me so I’m going to try not to have any more of those,’’ Jones-Drew said. “It’s just another way to get out there and get on the field and play.’’
– Defensive tackle Antonio Smith said he missed the offseason program recovering from sports hernia surgery.