For the time being, it’s not certain where Donald Penn and Kolton Miller will play this season.
And that’s just fine with Raiders head coach Jon Gruden. Gruden and his staff are going to take their time, absorb what they see from the two offensive tackles and make their decision in time for both to get settled in by Game 1 of the regular season on Sept. 10 vs. the Rams.
As of now, the rookie Miller will play left tackle – Penn’s spot for many seasons. Penn, now back on the field after foot surgery in December, is taking snaps at right tackle.
Penn, who recently agreed to restructure his contract, began practicing this week. In his absence, No. 1 pick Miller took all his snaps at left tackle.
“We haven’t settled on any starting lineups yet,” Gruden told reporters Wednesday, according to Matt Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle. “But we really didn’t want to disrupt Kolton’s status right now without being sure where Donald exactly was physically. This was an opportunity to get Penn back on the field with us, not only test (the foot), but test his conditioning, get his timing down, get back in the channel of our offense. And then we’ll address this later next week.”
Gruden added that Miller has made great progress in his first NFL training camp and “has done a great job for us.”
Miller played his first NFL exhibition game last week vs. the Detroit Lions and will get a chance to start at left tackle again Saturday in Los Angeles against the Rams. It’s presumed Penn will also see his first game action Saturday.
Penn, 35, appears willing to do what’s best for the team. It was presumed Miller was drafted to play right tackle with the hope he eventually could move over to take Penn’s spot when he retires or moves on. But Penn says he isn’t going to make an issue of moving away from protecting Derek Carr’s blind side.
“They talked to me about it, about trying it out, seeing what it would do, seeing how I would feel over there (on the right side) and I told them, ‘I’m willing to do whatever it takes to help this team win, and if you guys feel that’s going to be in the best interest of the team, I’ll do it,’” Penn told Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com after his first day of practice this week.
“Today felt kind of awkward and rusty, but I need time to develop. I don’t know if that’s going to be a permanent thing or not yet, but it is something we’re testing out and I told them I’m all for it. We’ve got a young kid over there (Miller) that’s doing a lot of good things.”
Penn added that “me and Kolton, we’re developing a good friendship. I want to have him ready so when he goes out there he can succeed.”
Kickoff for Saturday’s preseason game in Los Angeles is set for 1 p.m.