Raiders rookie Menelik Watson gets 'baptism by fire' at left tackle

Thearon W. Henderson

Oakland is a developing team. Watson is one of the young players getting a chance to prove his worth as they try to build from the ground up.

The Oakland Raiders aren't shying away from letting their young players take the field and strut their stuff. That's the reason rookie left tackle Menelik Watson is getting ample playing time this preseason, too, according to the Contra Costa Times.

Watson wouldn't be starting against the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday night  if Jared Veldheer didn't go down during training camp with a torn triceps. The team opted to give Watson a look, however, instead of continuing to play fellow Florida State alumnus Alex Barron.

Offensive line coach Tony Sparano is curious to see how Watson responds to this challenge.

"The question is whether or not time is on your side in getting a good evaluation, and the only way we're going to get that evaluation is to let him play," Sparano said.

Watson doesn't have a wealth of experience considering he only had 19 starts at the collegiate level between Saddleback College and Florida State -- and all of those appearances came as a right tackle, not on the left side where he's currently playing.

Oakland drafted Watson in the second round with hopes that he would become a solid bookend to Veldheer, not end up replacing him in the starting lineup as a rookie.

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