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News

Penn: "We’re going to play like the old Raiders"

Posted Jun 9, 2014

Raiders T Donald Penn spoke to the media after the Raiders kicked off Week 3 of OTAs at their Alameda, Calif., facility.

Q: How was your football camp?

Penn: “It went really good. We had a good turnout. We had about 340 kids out there. It was my fourth annual one and I’m excited that being a Raider now, and being local a lot, a lot more attention came. It’s a great thing. We had a real good time.”

Q:  How has it been for you so far, coming in to the new team?

Penn: “I’m loving it. You go to some teams where you have a couple of egos, here and there, but I feel like this group here is just a bunch of guys that want to work and want to turn this thing around. Being with [offensive coordinator] Greg Olson’s offense, I’m picking it up pretty fast, the biggest thing is just picking up some of the lingo that [offensive line coach] Tony [Sparano] has with some of the calls. Sometimes I catch myself making some of the calls I made in Tampa. I know they’re different, but besides that, catching up with Olson’s offense is pretty easy because I’ve been around it for a couple of years.”

Q: Head coach Dennis Allen was saying that one of your best attributes is your feet, do you look at it that way?

Penn: “My feet have always been one of my best attributes. I played basketball my whole life; I started playing football my sophomore year. Being a tackle, you have to be able to dance out there a little bit, especially with the athletes at defensive end now. You look at [Jadeveon] Clowney and what he ran in the forty, you have to have quick feet to be able to keep up with him. I think that’s been a good thing in my career that has helped me, if I do mess up on some other technique, having good feet helps me recover sometimes. I think that’s a good thing. With me going into my ninth year, one thing I do a lot during the offseason is the ladder drill. I do that a lot to try to keep my feet going well, and that’s one thing that really does help me at being a left tackle.”

Q: As the whole Jared Veldheer, Roger Saffold drama played out, did that open your eyes to Oakland as a possible destination for you?

Penn: “I look at it like this, everything in life happens for a reason. I think Oakland losing Saffold and then me getting released the next day, and having Olson here, me having a great relationship with him…I’ve talked with Olson since he’s been gone from Tampa. We still talk at least once or twice a year since then. Everything happens for a reason and Oakland called me quick. My family was happy. They wanted me closer and I wasn’t ready to play right tackle yet. Coming here I had a long talk with Tony. Tony is one of the guys that really sold me. I really have a good relationship with him so far and we’re building that. Being able to play with this line and this team, we have a lot of chips on our shoulders. Talking to [Justin] Tuck and [LaMarr] Woodley, and especially myself. I have a big chip on my shoulder, never being released before. I have a big chip on my shoulder, so these guys coming in, I think we’re going to do some good things”

Q: Is that a big deal when a left tackle is moved to the right, is it kind of looked at as a demotion?

Penn: “Everybody has their own opinion on it, and my opinion is, that when a left tackle moves to the right, they’re usually towards the end, and I’m nowhere near towards the end. That was one of my biggest things with making the decision to come here and not to Washington. There are a lot of great guys in Washington. Bruce Allen, the GM that brought me in. Raheem [Morris], Jay [Gruden], all those guys up there. Doug [Worthington]. I have a lot more left tackle in me, and I plan on finishing my career at left tackle.”

Q: You mentioned Tuck and Woodley, and the team drafted Khalil Mack, when you get to training camp how are having pass rushers like that on the other side of the ball going to help you with your game?

Penn: “It’s already helping me now. Me and Tuck talk between almost every play and you have to understand that Tuck is a different pass rusher than Woodley. Woodley is a different pass rusher than Khalil Mack, so getting all three of those types during camp is going to help me tremendously. You look at our conference and it’s stacked with defensive ends and pass rushers. And you check our schedule and it’s stacked with that, so I think that’s going to help me a lot. It’s really going to help me a lot. I’m really looking forward to it, and I’m looking forward to helping them too. I’m looking forward to helping Mack, helping Tuck, helping Woodley with a couple of tricks I have up my sleeve, because they have a couple of tricks up their sleeve too. Khalil Mack’s out there just working his butt off. He’s moving around from side to side playing different positions, but he’s out there working. To get a young kid in there like that - I can really tell he has the determination to want to be great… That third down is going to be tough opposing teams.”

Q: Can you tell right now that Khalil Mack is going to be an exceptional pass rusher?

Penn: “I see signs, and one of the biggest signs that I see is in between all the drills, I see him picking at Tuck’s ear all the time, getting advice. Khalil is a special athlete. I can tell by watching some of his movements, and the way that he can put his foots in the ground and change direction, for him to be doing that as a defensive end, he looks like he’s a defensive back. For a guy that size to be doing that, I think he’s going to get a lot of sacks late in the down because he has a motor on him that’s relentless. As a tackle that’s tough. You have to stay on him. You have to stay on him until you hear the whistle blow or until you hear the crowd cheering and he’s going to be relentless.”

Q: In what ways did getting released motivate you to work harder?

Penn: “I always work hard, but getting released really made me take a step back, because I was in Tampa for eight years. I played a lot of football and I’d never been released before, except for my rookie year when I was on practice squad. It really was a step back shocker, but I try to look at it like it’s in the past now. I’m ready to look forward and look forward to the future. I’m happy to be a Raider and I am going to use that as fuel and motivation going into next season, and I’m going to use that a lot. It’s always going to be in the back of my head for the rest of my career.”

Q: What do you remember and recall specifically about the Raiders being the LA Raiders?

Penn: “Me and my dad used to go tailgate out there. One of my dad’s friends, he’s passed away now, but he’s one of the guys who always used to take us out there. I remember being in the parking lot playing catch with his son and going to the games, sitting in the nosebleed section, and my dad having fun and rooting for the Raiders. They would be out there cooking and we used to go and it was something I always looked forward to as a kid. I remember being in college when the Raiders played in the Super Bowl against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and having a little Super Bowl party at the house and always cheering for the Raiders. Now, I’m going to be able to help them to return back to excellence.”

Q: Who was your favorite player growing up?

Penn: “I liked Rich Gannon. I loved it when we got [Warren] Sapp, Tim Brown. I used to always watch Big Lincoln [Kennedy] all the time. I used to watch him. He was a great left tackle. I grew up watching everybody.”

Q: What has been your first impression of Menelik Watson?

Penn: “Menelik Watson, he’s a tremendous athlete. My thing is, I don’t think Menelik knows how good he can be yet. I see a lot of potential in him. He has some great feet, which is important as a tackle. Menelik wants to be good, and that’s the biggest part of being a football. You have to want to be good, and he wants to. He’s working hard and he’s doing a lot of good things and I’ve been in his ear a lot. He’s one of those guys I’m going to try to take under my wing, him and [Matt] McCants. They’re really picking my brain and I’m telling them when they’re right, telling them when they’re wrong to the side. I like Menelik a lot.”

Q: What about this group as a whole, do you think you as a starting five can really dictate the tempo?

Penn: “It’s not a think, we are going to do that. We’re going to be a physical offensive line. We’re going to play like the old Raiders in between the whistle. Smart. We’re not going to get stupid penalties or stuff like that, but we’re not going to take anything. We’re not going to take any stuff. We’re going to run the ball, and we’re going to run the ball and run the ball, until they stop us from running the ball. It’s going to be hard. We’re going to be a physical offensive line. We’re going to play tough. We’re not going to take any stuff. We’re going to go out in the games and we’re going to dictate the tempo.”

Q: How much of an opportunity have you had to really get to know the other men on the offensive line?

Penn: “I’ve been spending a lot of time with all the guys. I’m staying at the hotel now, so me and McCants and Khalif [Barnes] go out and have dinner. This past weekend, Austin [Howard], McCants, Khalif and David Ausberry, they came out to LA for my camp. The weekend before that, LaMarr [Woodley] and Menelik [Watson] came out to LA for the weekend with me. They stayed at my house and we had a good time. We are building relationships. We are chilling and having a good time. Khalif and Matt brought their wives, Austin brought his wife this weekend, so all our families were able to meet. Tomorrow night we’re going out to dinner, a couple of the guys, and then next week, I’m planning on taking the offensive line and the quarterbacks out to dinner before we get this whole thing wrapped up. On me, so we can built a little bit more.”