NAPA (AP) — Raiders offensive line coach Mike Tice hasn’t spent much time wondering if or when left tackle Donald Penn will end his holdout.
With the season opener three weeks away, Tice is more concerned with who is in camp.
In a strange way, Tice believes the Raiders may have benefited from Penn’s absence.
“It’s always good when you’re developing depth,” Tice said Wednesday following the Raiders’ midafternoon practice. “We’ve had some days where we had to make it happen with 10 or 11 (linemen). When you have that, you have the ability, you have the opportunity, to develop your depth, so in the long run it’s actually a good thing.”
A two-time Pro Bowl pick, Penn participated in the Raiders’ entire offseason program but has been holding out during training camp in hopes of getting a new contract. The 34-year-old signed a two-year deal last offseason and is scheduled to earn $5.8 million in base salary for 2017.
Penn is seeking a pay raise that would put him among the top 10 for offensive linemen and believes the Raiders should pony up after signing right guard Gabe Jackson to a $56 million, five-year extension this offseason. Oakland already has lucrative deals with center Rodney Hudson ($44.5 million over five years) and left tackle Kelechi Osemele ($58.5 million, five years).
Tice tries not to get caught up in all of that, however. He has spent the past three weeks trying to get veteran Marshall Newhouse comfortable playing left tackle while Penn is missing and getting Vadal Alexander ready at right tackle, a position the team originally signed Newhouse to play.
“Where I’m at right now is I have to get us ready to go out and beat Tennessee (on Sept. 10),” Tice said. “Right now I have Marshall on the left and Vadal on the right. That’s what we have. I can’t sit here and wonder when DP’s going to come back. Right now I’ve moved forward with Marshall’s on the left and Vadal’s on the right. That’s the reality right now. I can’t think there’s going to be something else there until it’s there.”
One player in camp who has caught Tice’s attention is Ian Silberman, a sixth-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers in 2015 who spent part of last season on the Raiders’ practice squad.
Silberman started at center and played every snap during Oakland’s preseason game against Arizona last week. It’s a position Silberman had little to no experience at before this year.
“He’s probably been the biggest story on the line the whole training camp,” Tice said. “He had one mental (mistake), and the mental he had he stepped with the wrong foot. I’m very proud of him. He’s a determined kid. He’s been cut before and he’s determined not to be released again.”
Silberman is still a longshot to make the team’s 53-man roster — Hudson is the starter and Jon Feliciano, who missed the first two weeks of camp with a knee issue, is the backup. Still Silberman enhanced his value and increased his odds with what he showed against the Cardinals.
“I was just worried about not snapping over the quarterback’s head the first play,” Silberman said. “I know being a backup in this league and trying to find your way, you have to be as versatile as possible. Coach Tice is really good with technique.”
Notes: First-round draft pick Gareon Conley remained a spectator in practice but spent time afterward catching passes from a Juggs machine. . Tice revealed that seventh-round draft pick Jylan Ware suffered a concussion earlier in the camp.
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