Donald Penn remains focused on perfecting his rhythm at right tackle
Derek Carr has been sacked just twice, and hit a mere four times. The Silver and Black – based on sacks allowed – are tied for the second-best offensive line in the NFL, as far as that metric is concerned. There should be some extra praise for the group considering they went against two of the most aggressive and persistent pass rushes in the NFL to start the season. In Week 1 they were tasked with limiting Rams defensive tackles Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh, and during Week 2 they faced the notorious Von Miller.
Keeping Carr upright is the goal, and so far the offensive line has been able to do that. It’s also worth noting that the team has been able to do so while starting a rookie at left tackle, and he’s done an exceptional job. Kolton Miller has been thrown into the line of fire without hesitation, facing some of the best pass rushers in the league. The No. 15 overall pick boasts unique size and athleticism, and as he gains more experience he’ll continue to mature into the Raiders’ left tackle of the future.
“Pretty good. Like I’ve said, we’ve played two really good defenses,” Gruden said when asked about Miller’s production thus far. “We’ve done some really good things upfront quietly.”
Not only is there a new face along the line, but veteran tackle Donald Penn has shifted to right tackle, which would be a major adjustment for any player. For the past 12 years Penn has served on the left side, and making the change this far in his career presented an interesting hurdle he was more than willing to overcome.
“I’m pretty good at it now, the first couple weeks I had to keep flipping the play in my head, but I’m good now, so that’s one less thing I have to worry about,” Penn said Wednesday. “I was getting down [to the line] and I had to keep flipping it in my head, I’m not on the left side no more. You know me, I’m just trying to get my rhythm down, and get my technique down. It’s totally different, I’m a left hander, and I’ve been playing left tackle, so it’s just a big different man.”
The Dolphins defensive front doesn’t consist of Aaron Donald or Von Miller, but the unit has a handful of capable playmakers. Cameron Wake has been a fixture on the Dolphins front for 10 years now, and even at the age of 36 he’s finding ways to be productive. For the last two seasons he’s eclipsed the 10-sack threshold, and in Week 3 he’ll have to beat Penn if he wants to register his first sack of 2018.
“They’re good, they do a good job of rushing the passer,” Penn said. “I’ve played against Cameron Wake a lot, but I’ve never actually played against him because he’s been on the opposite side, so this will be a new challenge for me. They’re doing a good job, they’re playing good, they move around a lot, they’re playing tough. I feel like their front seven are leading that defensive group, so our front five are going to have to do a good job to help us pull this game out and be successful.”
With a pair of relatively young corners lining up against Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson, if Derek Carr can hang in the pocket for extended time the Raiders wide outs should be able to have a productive outing. We’ll see how the Raiders front five hold up against the Dolphins pass rush come Sunday, kickoff is at 10:00 a.m. PDT.