Tackle Donald Penn
After a decade in the NFL, there isn't much that Donald Penn hasn't done.
He's gone undrafted and made an NFL roster. He's started a playoff game, and been named to the Pro Bowl as well, and heading into the Oakland Raiders Week 8 matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he's now started 147 consecutive games since 2007.
It's been an impressive career for the Inglewood, Calif.,-native, but in 2016 he's experiencing something for the first time; winning.
"I've never been 5-2, and it's feeling good," said Penn Thursday. "Things are clicking. The offensive line, we're still getting better and better every day. We have a long… We know how far away we are, but we're still working hard to get better and better every day. Me and Kelechi [Osemele], week in and week out, our double teams are getting better. Our pick up on games, our pass protection, the way we're feeling each other is getting better day in and day out. It's new to us and we're working and building. We have a long way away, but we're working."
At 33 years old, and in his 10th NFL season, No. 72 doesn't seem to be slowing down at all, and there's an argument to be made that at this latter stage of his career, he's playing his best football as a professional.
As far as what Penn thinks about that subject, he'll leave it up to the pundits to make the call.
"That's what people are saying," Penn said coyly. "I mean [shoot], I don't know. I feel good."
Jokes aside, Penn has been stellar this season – and really since he first touched down in Oakland – as he's been a consistent presence on the left side of the line protecting Derek Carr's blindside, helping anchor a unit that has allowed just seven sacks of the quarterback, the best mark in the NFL this season.
"I don't like nobody getting next to my quarterback," Penn explained. "I'm talking like I get pissed at myself. I think that's why I've been able to play so long. I'm my biggest critic. I think that's why I've been able to do this for so long at such a high level because I'm my biggest critic and I'm hard on myself."
Sunday's game in Tampa Bay, albeit the next hurdle on the schedule to getting to 6-2, will also hold special significance to the veteran tackle, as it will mark the first time he's been back to Raymond James Stadium since parting ways with the Buccaneers at the end of the 2013 season.
And while some players downplay their return against a former team, the emotional Penn is not taking that approach; he's going into the Week 8 rumble with a chip on his shoulder – a big one at that.
"I'm not going to sugarcoat it. It's very huge," Penn said. "You know me, I'm a straight forward guy. That's definitely in my mind. I mean that's something I'm never going to forget, when they released me. The thing is I'm happy where I'm at now."
"I've never walked into Raymond James Stadium from the visitor side," added Penn. "It's going to be something new. Looking forward to seeing some of the old guys that still play on the team. I'm just trying to go out there and come out with a win."
Kickoff against the 3-3 Buccaneers is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. PT.
G/T – Vadal Alexander – Ankle – Limited
WR – Andre Holmes – Hip – Limited
RB – Taiwan Jones – Knee –Limited
DT – Stacy McGee – Ankle – Did not part.
S – Brynden Trawick – Shoulder – Limited
T – Menelik Watson – Calf – Limited
-After missing Wednesday's practice, running back Taiwan Jones was back on the field Thursday, participating in a limited capacity. However, defensive tackle Stacy McGee was still unable to practice, casting doubt on his availability for Sunday's matchup with the Bucs.
-The Raiders were back at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., for their second practice of the week, but besides practice being held away from their Alameda, Calif., facility, it was another business day as usual for the Silver and Black.
-The team was loose and energetic during the "Turnover Thursday" session; wide receiver Jaydon Mickens even broke out a few dance moves before and during the stretching portion of practice.
Rookie defensive end Jihad Ward knows that there's still a lot of work to be done, but he's happy with the team's 5-2 record:
"I feel like it's a good feeling because we are 5-2 and we still have puzzles to solve. And that's the good thing about it because a lot of people are still trying to figure out what's going on when they're having a bad season as of now. The season is long, so we're 5-2 and we're still trying to figure stuff out and that's a good thing. Because, once we get it, it's going to come back strong and that's why I'm saying greatness takes time. I was really worried about it, worried about myself doing what I have to do, doing my job, but I can only control myself right now to be honest with you all. But, I can do my part and I can help the team better."
Tweet Of The Day: