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Raiders expect Pashos will be in starting lineup

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POSTED November 14, 2013 11:29 p.m.

ALAMEDA (AP) — The Oakland Raiders expect to have starting right tackle Tony Pashos back for Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans.

Pashos missed four of the last five games with a hip flexor and has been limited in practice this week while splitting reps with rookie Menelik Watson. Coach Dennis Allen, however, hinted that Pashos likely will start and Pashos later confirmed it.

That would be a big boost for the Raiders, who have allowed 36 sacks this season and will be facing one of the league’s premier pass-rushers in Texans defensive end J.J. Watt.

“He’s as advertised,” Pashos said Thursday. “For such a young guy, he’s doing a lot of great things in this league. You have to be on you’re A game. You have to be at your best.”

Oakland’s offensive line has been banged up since training camp when starting left tackle Jared Veldheer suffered a torn triceps and was placed on the designated to return/injured reserve list. Veldheer practiced this week for the first time since then but has yet to be activated to the 53-man roster.

Center Stefen Wisniewski has also missed time while injured, as has his backup and one-time starting left guard Andre Gurode. Pashos, who signed with the team six days before the season opener, just shook his head.

“We’ve been plugging and going and guys have answered the bell,” said Pashos. “We were warming up tight ends at right tackle, so think about that. (Offensive line coach Tony Sparano) has done an unreal job and still does it to this day.”

The Raiders have had three different players start at right tackle, including Pashos, Watson and undrafted rookie Matt McCants.

Khalif Barnes was penciled in as the starter before the season but was moved to left tackle after Veldheer got hurt. Oakland has had a bit of a revolving door on the right side since then.

Pashos started the first four games before his injury. McCants, who also wasn’t on the Raiders’ roster when the team broke training camp, made three starts in Pashos’ absence but sat out last week’s loss to the Giants with a toe injury.

Watson has also had problems staying healthy.

The 42nd overall pick in the draft, Watson injured a calf muscle the week before training camp opened and missed most of the preseason. He sat out the first seven regular-season games, then was pressed into duty in the first half of Oakland’s Nov. 3 loss to Philadelphia when McCants got hurt.

“Tony allows us more of a veteran-type leadership that we’re lacking out there,” offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. “We were excited about Menelik Watson but the guy missed all of training camp. He’s getting better every day but it’s just nice to have the veterans back out there.”

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