Donald Penn has two weeks to learn the rhythm.
With 11 years in the NFL under his belt – all at left tackle – Penn knows the rhythm on the left side, but now as he prepares to embark on the next portion of his career, on the right side, he's in the process of learning a new dance.
"I have a sweet rhythm over there," Penn said in reference to his history on the left side. "I know that rhythm. I can get in a left tackle stance right now and show you that rhythm, and it's going to look sweet. At right tackle, I'm trying to find that rhythm right now, and that's why the more time, the more repetition, like in practice, Coach Gruden might dial down the tempo, but I'm still telling the guy to go hard on me because I need those extra reps from what I missed. The more time comes, the more comfortable, the more confident, the more confidence I'll get in that foot, and it's coming along."
After a decade-plus playing on the left side – including the past four years in Oakland – it's going to take time for No. 72 to get comfortable in his new role, and at this juncture, it's mostly about getting as many reps as he can before Week 1.
"I was very rusty," Penn said of his performance in the team's Friday matchup against the Green Bay Packers. "I have a lot of work to do on myself, which I knew that going into the game. I knew that going into that week. I know that going into this week. It's something that I knew, going into that game, that was going to be tough on me. I was excited to get out there and try it out live. It's a different speed in practice than it is in the game. I wish I could have done some things a lot better than I did. I saw some things I need to fix, and some things I need to work on, and the biggest part of it was trying to build up my confidence, trying to get some confidence in this foot, and pushing off on it, and planting, and sustaining it against the other big guys going into me."
At game's end, Penn had played 20 snaps at right tackle, and while the fourth preseason game hardly, if ever, features starters on either side of the ball, the Raiders newest right tackle said that he's not against playing Thursday night against the Seahawks, if that's what Head Coach Jon Gruden and staff request.
"They haven't discussed that with me," Penn said. "They haven't brought that to me, but I wouldn't be mad about that. I would definitely be open to that, especially with my situation, where I'm coming from, coming back from a serious injury, missing a lot of football, missing a lot of camp. I wouldn't not be down [for] that. I would be very open to that, if they decide to do that."
We won't know for certain if Penn will suit up in the preseason finale until later this week, for the veteran tackle – and the team in general – the more important date comes two weeks from now when the Raiders open up the 2018 regular season against the Los Angeles Rams.
And while any reps Penn gets Thursday will no doubt be valuable, make no mistake about it, Penn's goal is to be comfortable, and up to speed on the right side, by Week 1.
"When's the first game," Penn joked with reporters Monday. "September 10, baby. September 10, that thing better be going. It better be going… "I feel like I'll be ready, I'll definitely be ready by September 10, especially, with, like I said, with each day how I feel like I'm getting better. When we played Friday, Saturday I came out here and did a couple of sets on air out here after my workout, and those felt better than they did Friday night, so like I said, I'm being able to work it, work those sets, get in a comfortable rhythm, that's what it is."