ALAMEDA (AP) — The Oakland Raiders will be without starting right tackle Austin Howard for Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers because of a left knee injury.
Howard was hurt on Oakland’s opening possession of the third quarter during last week’s win over Denver. He had to be helped off the field by team trainers and did not return.
The 6-foot-7, 330-pound Howard — who has started 61 consecutive games — was held out of practice all week and the team was hopeful the rest would enable him to play. Instead, Howard was declared out on Friday.
Raiders coach Jack Del Rio declined to say who would replace Howard in the lineup against the Packers but the team has multiple options.
Veteran offensive lineman Khalif Barnes, who has been used frequently this season on tackle-eligible plays, took over when Howard went down and was in for the final 38 plays against Denver. The Raiders also have Matt McCants listed on the depth chart as the backup right tackle.
In practice this week, though, starting right guard J’Marcus Webb took reps at right tackle while rookie Jon Feliciano worked at right guard. Webb played at tackle for the first five years of his career before the Raiders moved him to guard during training camp.
While remaining tight-lipped about who would start against the Packers, Del Rio praised offensive line coach Mike Tice. Del Rio also likened the situation to earlier in the season when center Rodney Hudson missed three games with an ankle injury, forcing seldom-used offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom into the lineup.
“I think Mike has done a great job with that group all year,” Del Rio said. “I think the group has done a great job of working, much like when Tony stepped in. We feel good about the group as a whole and feel confident that we’ll play well.”
The likely scenario is that Webb will start at tackle and Feliciano will go at guard.
Feliciano, a fourth-round pick out of Miami, has not played on offense this season. He’s been inactive for nine games, including last week’s win over the Broncos, and has played minimally on special teams.
“It was difficult to sit and watch for a long time,” Feliciano said after Friday’s practice. “As a young guy coming into a whole new environment, you have to learn how to do what Coach Tice is demanding of you. Having all those weeks of practicing and getting better really helped me out.”
Despite being inactive for most of the season, Feliciano doesn’t think there will be a problem when it comes to communication and understanding the line calls.
Notes: Safety Nate Allen (knee) missed his second straight practice and will not play. . Wide receiver Amari Cooper (foot) was limited in practice but is probable. Linebacker Khalil Mack (knee), safety Charles Woodson (shoulder), defensive tackle Shelby Harris (ankle) and running back Taiwan Jones (knee) are also probable. Safety Neiko Thorpe (neck) was limited and is questionable.