With Donald Penn holding out, that means more reps for Marshall Newhouse and Vadal Alexander at offensive tackle. Can they get it done in Penn’s absence?
We have to believe that Pro Bowl offensive tackle Donald Penn will eventually come back to play for the 2017 Oakland Raiders. He has his reasons, but his holdout has been a dark cloud hovering over Raiders camp for the last two weeks. However, Penn not reporting to camp has allowed two offensive linemen to get more reps at tackle in Marshall Newhouse and Vadal Alexander.
This is Newhouse’s first year with the Silver and Black. He is a former fifth-round pick out of TCU by the Green Bay Packers in 2011. Newhouse has played for the Packers, Cincinnati Bengals and the New York Giants in his six NFL seasons prior to this. He has 56 starts under his belt in 86 games.
Newhouse may not be as flashy of a player up front for the Raiders like center Rodney Hudson or left guard Kelechi Osemele, but he does have great value as a high-end swing tackle. The idea is that Newhouse would solidify a great need up front in Oakland by occupying the right tackle spot opposite of Penn. That hasn’t manifest due to Penn’s holdout, but getting reps at both spots in a new offense can only be a good thing for the veteran lineman.
While Newhouse has benefited marginally from Penn’s holdout, second-year offensive lineman Alexander has benefited greatly. With Newhouse playing some left tackle, Alexander has received a ton of reps at right tackle. The former LSU Tiger loves the competition he’s getting from Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin on the outside. They are making him a better player in year two.
What seems to be the biggest question about the pair heading into the preseason game on Saturday night against the Arizona Cardinals is if Oakland can still win up front with Newhouse and Alexander at tackle long-term?
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Well, we’ll have to see what they can do in the preseason games. Both will play a good amount, as Newhouse is new to the team and Alexander is still in the infancy of his NFL career.
However, Oakland’s offensive line will likely be less menacing without Penn in the fold.
That’s obvious, but you can never have too much depth on the offensive line.
If and when Penn does return, he’ll be able to get back into the swing of things in only a few practices. He’s one of the better tackles in football for a reason.
What gives the Raiders a luxury to see what sticks at tackle is that they are so dominant on the inside with Hudson, Osemele and right guard Gabe Jackson. Their continuity on the interior is undeniable. All they will do is give franchise quarterback Derek Carr a clean pocket to throw from all the time.
To bring it all back home, the Raiders should be able to tread water with Newhouse and Alexander starting at tackle for a few weeks. However, this won’t be the same offensive line it was a year ago with Penn having a great season at left tackle. Besides the rookies, Newhouse and Alexander are probably the two Raiders you’ll to watch the most intently on Saturday versus Arizona.