ALAMEDA – Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio isn't yet sure who will replace Donald Penn at left tackle. Veteran Marshall Newhouse is the obvious choice, a career right tackle with more than a season's experience on the left. He can switch from right to left, and Vadal Alexander can take his previous place in the starting lineup.
David Sharpe's another option in Penn's place. The fourth-round rookie from Florida could see extended snaps down the stretch. It could be a valuable window to see if Sharpe could be Penn's heir apparent.
"I think he's a guy that has a chance to be a player for us in the future," Del Rio said. "I'd like to play him for sure, but he's going to have to earn that in practice."
That's Del Rio tact across the board heading down the stretch. This won't be a period to evaluate young players, even if it'll take a miracle to reach the playoffs. The Raiders need tons of help and two more wins, using certain four-way tiebreakers or a five-way tiebreaker including the Chargers to get in at 8-8. That's a pipedream at this stage.
Unrealistic odds won't alter Del Rio's stance or playing time distribution against Philadelphia on Monday or the Chargers to close the year.
"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."
The Raiders are still hoping for a .500 record, even after a heartbreaking 20-17 loss to Dallas Sunday at Oakland Coliseum eliminated the opportunity for a winning season. Playoff odds were long heading into the Cowboys game, but the Raiders fought to erase a double-digit halftime deficit and squeak one out at the end.
"That's more like we want to see it around here. You can put your head down on the pillow and know that you gave it all you had. The team was into it for 60 minutes and we came up a little short. I don't think anyone questions what we saw in terms of effort and energy and grit and determination and those things. That's at the core of what I believe in as a competitor. That's what we're going to bring. I am proud of seeing that, but there is no consolation prize at the end of the day. We need to win games, that's what we're here for."