NAPA – Donald Penn won’t step foot in the Napa Valley Marriott this year. Unless something truly shocking happens, the Raiders will break training camp Thursday afternoon without seeing the Pro Bowl left tackle on the practice field.
Penn wants a new contract, one worth more than the $5.8 million base salary he was scheduled to make under his current deal. Penn has outperformed that pact, and is willing to wait for a new one.
It’s been 20 days with no movement.
That has forced offensive line coach Mike Tice to make other plans. He has to move on with the players he had in camp, even with the virtual certainty Penn will return before the regular season starts.
Marshall Newhouse is the Raiders left tackle. Vadal Alexander is on the right. That’s who Tice has to work with. He has to prep them for the regular season opener Sept. 10.
“Where I’m at right now is I have to get us ready to go out and beat Tennessee,” Tice said after Wednesday’s practice. “So right now, I have Marshall on the left and I have Vadal on the right and I have David doing a little bit more each day, playing both sides. That’s what we have. I can’t sit here and wonder when DP is going to come back. Right now I’ve moved forward with Marshall is on the left and Vadal is on the right and David is swinging.
"That’s reality right now. I can’t think that there’s going to be something else there until it’s there.”
When Penn eventually shows up to work at the Raiders complex in Alameda, Tice will add him to the mix. The Raiders have now had plenty of time to prepare for an instance in which their Pro Bowl tackle is not physically able to perform.
“Injuries happen during the season and you have to have a plan to have a player ready to play at each position and sometimes multiple players ready at the same position,” Tice said. “With Donald not here yet, we’re able to have Marshall over there. He’s done a nice job. He’s gotten better. The challenge you have with a veteran guy that comes in, he’s been coached by other coaches to do things a different way and it takes time for a veteran to learn the ways to do things the way that we want to do them as Raiders. That’s probably the biggest challenge.”
Penn isn’t the only offensive lineman to miss time. David Sharpe and Jylan Ware have missed some time with injury. Kelechi Osemele has taken some time off this camp. Jon Feliciano only returned from the physically unable to perform list last week. Tice has mixed and matched just to get through practice.
“We’ve had some days where we’ve had to make it happen with 10 or 11,” Tice said. “When you have that, you get the ability, you have the ability, you have the opportunity to develop your depth. In the long run, it’s actually a good thing.”