Oakland Raiders Top 5: Early Training Camp Battles

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Nov 16, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders tackle Menelik Watson (71) blocks San Diego Chargers outside linebacker Jarret Johnson (96) as he rushes quarterback Derek Carr (4) during the first quarter at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Austin Howard vs. Menelik Watson

The left side of the Raiders’ offensive line is solidified, as former 2014 free agent addition Donald Penn and 2014 third-round pick Gabe Jackson is progressing into one of the top offensive guards in the league, but Oakland is still looking for their Week 1 starter at the right tackle position.

Former New York Jets offensive tackle Austin Howard is entering the second year of his five-year, $30 million contract, which has created the sense that the five-year veteran is the favorite for the starting role. Unfortunately, Howard didn’t quite live up to expectations in 2015, and as a result, he is competing with former second-round pick Menelik Watson for the starting role.

The former Florida State University offensive tackle has had his struggles since entering the league in 2013, but he apparently is performing quite well in training camp, as Brian Flores of BleacherReport.com claims that Watson is leading the competition.

“The more surprising development has been at right tackle, where Watson has taken the early lead in the competition for the starting job,” Flores said.’

Given Watson’s potential to develop at the age of 26, it makes more sense for Oakland to lean towards naming him the starter if he continues to perform well in training camp. Also, if Watson can effectively claim the starting role, the Raiders will be able to either add Howard to the competition for the starting guard spot or free up salary cap space with his release.

Next: Camp Battles: Brice Butler vs. Andre Holmes vs. Kenbrell Thompkins