The Raiders expect to have starting right tackle Tony Pashos back for Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans.
Pashos missed four of the last five games with a hip flexor and has been limited in practice this week while splitting reps with rookie Menelik Watson. Coach Dennis Allen, however, hinted that Pashos likely will start and Pashos later confirmed it.
That would be a big boost for the Raiders, who have allowed 36 sacks this season and will be facing one of the league’s premier pass-rushers in Texans defensive end J.J. Watt.
“He’s as advertised,” Pashos said Thursday. “For such a young guy, he’s doing a lot of great things in this league. You have to be on you’re A game. You have to be at your best.”
Oakland’s offensive line has been banged up since training camp when starting left tackle Jared Veldheer suffered a torn triceps and was placed on the designated to return/injured reserve list. Veldheer practiced this week for the first time since then but has yet to be activated to the 53-man roster.
Center Stefen Wisniewski has also missed time while injured, as has his backup and one-time starting left guard Andre Gurode. Pashos, who signed with the team six days before the season opener, just shook his head.
“We’ve been plugging and going and guys have answered the bell,” said Pashos. “We were warming up tight ends at right tackle, so think about that. (Offensive line coach Tony Sparano) has done an unreal job and still does it to this day.”
The Raiders have had three different players start at right tackle, including Pashos, Watson and undrafted rookie Matt McCants.
Khalif Barnes was penciled in as the starter before the season but was moved to left tackle after Veldheer got hurt. Oakland has had a bit of a revolving door on the right side since then. Pashos started the first four games before his injury. McCants, who also wasn’t on the Raiders’ roster when the team broke training camp, made three starts in Pashos’ absence but sat out last week’s loss to the Giants with a toe injury.
Watson has also had problems staying healthy.
The 42nd overall pick in the draft, Watson injured a calf muscle the week before training camp opened and missed most of the preseason. He sat out the first seven regular-season games, then was pressed into duty in the first half of Oakland’s Nov. 3 loss to Philadelphia when McCants got hurt.
“Tony allows us more of a veteran-type leadership that we’re lacking out there,” offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. “We were excited about Menelik Watson but the guy missed all of training camp. He’s getting better every day but it’s just nice to have the veterans back out there.”</p>
Watt was indifferent when asked about the Raiders’ offensive line during a conference call with Bay Area media.
“I kind of go in with the mindset that it doesn’t matter who I line up across from,” said Watt, who has a league-leading 27 sacks since the start of the 2012 season. “I’ve seen film on all of (their) offensive linemen. I just go play my game.”
Oakland quarterback Terrelle Pryor was also back at practice after sitting out Wednesday to rest his sore knee, though undrafted rookie Matt McGloin continued to take the majority of reps with the Raiders’ starting offense.
Allen, however, said that Pryor would start if he’s cleared to play.
“He got some reps with the first team and we’ll see how he looks tomorrow,” Allen said. “All you can do is watch practice and go with what you see on the practice field. If he looks like he’s at health then he’ll be ready to go.”
Notes: Allen said he called first-round pick D.J. Hayden into his office to check on the rookie cornerback, who has had a rough season so far and is out with a groin injury. “I wanted to make sure that he was doing OK, get his spirits up and get ready to go,” Allen said. … RB Darren McFadden (hamstring) was also held out of practice.