Raiders' Donald Penn to have foot surgery, ending 170-game streak
Raiders left tackle Donald Penn, one of the NFL’s most durable linemen over the course of his career, has played his final snap this season.
Penn will have season-ending surgery on his right foot Wednesday, head coach Jack Del Rio confirmed in his Monday news conference. Penn was hurt in the first quarter of the Raiders’ 20-17 loss to Dallas on Sunday night.
Penn has started 170 consecutive regular-season games, the longest active streak among NFL linemen. His streak will end Christmas Day when the Raiders play at Philadelphia on “Monday Night Football.”
Tackle Vadal Alexander said after Sunday’s game that the Raiders’ offensive line had lost “our leader. Him, (center Rodney Hudson), are our veterans of the group, our leaders.”
Penn went down with about five minutes left in the first quarter while blocking on a running play to the left. He rolled over and slammed his left hand into the grass in frustration.
The 34-year-old has played in 174 regular-season games beginning with his NFL debut with Tampa Bay in 2007. He was unable to play in last season’s AFC wild-card game after injuring his left knee in the Raiders’ regular-season finale at Denver.
In September, the Raiders agreed to a two-year contract extension through 2019 with Penn, who held out during training camp for a salary raise.
After Penn’s injury Sunday, the Raiders moved Marshall Newhouse from right to left tackle and inserted Alexander at right tackle. The line did not allow a sack, though Alexander did allow three quarterback hits and two hurries in 39 pass-blocking snaps, per Pro Football Focus.
“Vadal battled,” Del Rio said. “There were some times where he needed some help and we gave him some help. There were times he needed some help and we didn’t, and Derek (Carr) got rid of the ball quick. I think the group as a whole battled.”
Del Rio said the Raiders could keep that line intact this week, but rookie David Sharpe will have a chance to earn playing time at left tackle.
“We’ll see how the week goes,” Del Rio said, “but that’s why (Sharpe) is here.”
Sharpe, the Raiders’ fourth-round draft pick this year from Florida, has been inactive for eight games this season and appeared in three. His only playing time at tackle came against the Giants on Dec. 3, when he played three snaps.
Del Rio said Sharpe has used his rookie year in part to improve his conditioning. Del Rio said his son, Luke, a former teammate of Sharpe’s at Florida, was in town over the weekend and commented on the change.
“The first thing he said was, ‘Wow, (Sharpe’s) body looks a lot better. He’s really been working,’” Del Rio said. “He has been. He’s working with (strength and conditioning coach) Joe Gomes and the strength department. He’s been working with (offensive line coach) Mike Tice and his teammates.
“I think he’s a guy that has a chance to be a player for us in the future. I’d like to play him, for sure. But he’s going to have to earn that in practice.”
At 6-8, the Raiders would need to win their final two games and have a series of circumstances involving other teams go right to reach the postseason. Del Rio, however, said those odds do not mean the Raiders will use the next two games to evaluate younger personnel.
“We’re playing to win at all costs,” Del Rio said. “It’s all about winning any way we can. All decisions will be based on accomplishing that.”