Oakland Raiders OL Menelik Watson has new mindset in third season


Oct 19, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders tackle Menelik Watson (71) reacts before the game against the Arizona Cardinals at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

A second round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, offensive lineman Menelik Watson hasn’t quite reached the expectations that the Oakland Raiders had for the former Florida State Seminoles prospect in his first two pro seasons. Injury and production issues plaguing the Manchester, England-born as Watson hasn’t been able to become a consistent starter yet as he reaches the halfway point of his rookie contract with the Raiders.

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Now in his third training camp fully healthy, Watson has a new offensive line coach as Tony Sparano has exited and Mike Tice has entered as part of Jack Del Rio’s new coaching staff. Watson also has a new mentality as he continues his NFL career, making it a goal to enjoy the accomplishment of being in the NFL and trying not to put too much pressure on himself to live up to internal expectations as well as external expectations from those who want to see the former second rounder become the starting presence that the Raiders front office feel that he can be.

Talking to Scott Bair of CSN Bay AreaWatson said he has set the goal to enjoy the 2015 season and all of the moments that come with being in the NFL at the peak of the sport. Telling Bair that no matter what happens with his play as well as the Raiders season, that he is going to enjoy playing the game that he loves at the highest level.

“I told myself before the season that, no matter what happened, I was going to enjoy myself,” Watson told Bair in a recent interview. “I’m so blessed to play this game considering the road I traveled and where I came from. I’m about to get married. My family’s doing great. I’m love my job. I’m going to enjoy it for every single moment of this season.”

The former FSU starter also mentioned to Bair that he felt that some of his issues in his first two seasons came from not being prepared to make the jump from being a top college prospect to the demands of the NFL. His relative lack of experience as a former basketball player from England coming to the fold once he made the jump from the collegiate ranks to the pros.

“Things happened really fast, from junior college to Florida State to the NFL,” Watson said. “I put a lot of pressure on myself despite that fact. I didn’t want a lack of playing experience as an excuse. That said, a lot of my issues came from inexperience. I didn’t know how to best treat my body, when to turn the intensity on and off, and, when playing is more mental than physical. But I’ve learned and learned a lot. Now I feel like an offensive lineman, not an athlete playing offensive line.

“That was one of the biggest adjustments I’ve made over the last two years, and I am starting to feel really comfortable with what I’m doing out there.”

Watson’s third season with the Raiders is a crucial one as with just two seasons left on his rookie contract the former second rounder needs to impress a new coaching staff to earn a starter’s role with the team. With a new mindset and two seasons of experience under his belt the odds are good that Watson can finally achieve some of the goals he has set for himself with the Raiders, just expect him to enjoy himself along the way as the Englishman living his NFL dream is ready for whatever comes in 2015.

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