Oakland Raiders back home, LT Donald Penn still away during contract dispute

By The Sports Xchange  |  Aug. 22, 2017 at 10:07 PM
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ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders held their first full practice Tuesday at the team facility since breaking training camp in Napa, and any hopes that the change of locale would get Donald Penn back in the fold were put on hold.

For now, anyway.

Penn remained in a contract stalemate with general manager Reggie McKenzie, hoping for a considerable bump in his $5.8 million salary, the second year of a two-year deal he signed before the 2015 season.

Speculation remained that Penn would arrive at some point this week -- the San Francisco Chronicle reported that was the case -- with the Raiders beginning preparations to visit the Dallas Cowboys Saturday night.

Head coach Jack Del Rio has steadfastly held to his policy of not discussing players who aren't with the team, and held to that standard when asked if the length of Penn's absence could affect his availability for the regular-season opener Sept. 10 in Tennessee.

"I'll just coach the guys that are here," Del Rio said. "I'm not really going to go further on the subject."

Quarterback Derek Carr was a little more expansive when asked what it would mean to have Penn back this week.

"It would mean a lot," Carr said. "He's our teammate. We want all of our teammates here. We want to work hard together, we want to be together, we want to joke together. It's more than just football. We want to be there in his life with him, those kinds of things. I would love it."

With Penn absent, the Raiders have played veteran Marshall Newhouse at left tackle with second-year player Vadal Alexander on the right side. Originally, Newhouse was signed to be the right tackle, replacing the departed Menelik Watson and Austin Howard.

The Raiders protection held up well against the Rams' first unit, with Carr getting all the time he needed to pass. Even on an interception by Trumaine Johnson, Carr had ample time to throw.

To prepare for the worst-case scenario and no Penn, fourth-round draft pick David Sharpe and seventh-rounder Jylan Ware got 38 and 35 snaps respectively against the Rams.

"He did a good job. He did a really good job," Carr said. "At one point, they switched and put Sharpe in and I didn't know it until like two plays into the series. But that means they're doing good things, which means when Donald gets back, we have a lot of good offensive linemen. That's something that as long as Mr. McKenzie is involved here is going to continue to happen. We're always going to have good offensive linemen."

Carr, mindful that his brother David was sacked 76 times as a rookie (Derek has 71 sacks in 45 games), is thankful for a unified front.

"From past family experience, I know that if an injury happens or anything like that or of someone breaks a shoelace, we're OK," Carr said. "It's a good thing."

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