ALAMEDA – Donald Penn was designated to return off injured reserve a few weeks back. That doesn’t mean he will.
The offensive lineman has been practicing since Dec. 5, meaning his three-week window closes before long. The Raiders have to make a decision on whether to add him to the 53-man roster, or revert him back to injured reserve.
Option B doesn’t happen much. NFL teams can designate just two players to return to practice, so they make darn sure their choices can help the team on game day.
The Raiders didn’t have another option – running back Marshawn Lynch wasn’t going to be healthy enough to return after suffering a groin injury in Week 6 – and gave Penn a chance to work again this season.
While an official decision hasn’t arrived, coach Jon Gruden foreshadowed Penn’s end result for the 2018 season.
“We’ll make that decision here in the next few days, but it doesn’t look like he will play this year,” Gruden said. “It doesn’t look like he will be back.”
Penn continues to practice, as he did Wednesday, despite such pessimism. He wants to return, but it may ultimately be better to give rookie tackles Kolton Miller and Brandon Parker more seasoning in games that ultimately don’t mean much.
It also makes some financial sense. If Penn returns and suffers a serious injury that would keep him out an extended stretch, they Raiders would be on the hook for Penn's entire 2019 season salary.
The veteran could well be back when healthy, but keeping him away from injury risk gives the Raiders flexibility in regards to Penn. He is, however, owed $1.75 million guaranteed as part of a 2019 payout that could reach $7.25 million.
Here’s the full participation for the Raiders and Broncos heading into Monday night’s AFC West rivalry clash:
Raiders practice report
Did not practice
DT Maurice Hurst (ankle)
Cb Daryl Worley (shoulder)
CB Gareon Conley (concussion)
C Rodney Hudson (ankle/knee)
S Karl Joseph (neck)
FB Keith Smith (calf)
TE Lee Smith (back)
LB Kyle Wilber (hamstring)
LG Kelechi Osemele (toe)
WR Jordy Nelson (foot)
Broncos practice report
Did not practice
TE Matt LaCosse (ankle)
CB Brandon Langley (concussion)
OLB Sahq Barrett (hip)
ILB Brandon Marshall (knee)
WR Courtland Sutton (quadriceps)
CB Isaac Yaidom (shoulder)