Raiders left tackle Jared Veldheer (68) said he is uncertain how long he'll be sidelined after surgery Friday for a torn left triceps, but he added he plans to play this season. Alex Barron will start in Veldheer's place in Friday's preseason game against Chicago. Marcio Jose Sanchez The Associated Press

Raiders must fill big hole

Published: Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3C
Last Modified: Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013 - 10:25 am

NAPA – Left tackle Jared Veldheer, the Raiders' top offensive lineman, said Wednesday he isn't sure how long he'll be out after surgery Friday for a torn left triceps, but he added he intends to play this season.

"I've got another follow-up appointment next week and they'll start learning more as far as dates and times to shoot for," he said.

The Raiders have until Sept. 3 to determine whether Veldheer will go on injured reserve but be designated for return, which would mean he'd be out a minimum of seven games. It remains the most likely course of action.

With training camp concluded in Napa, the Raiders prepare to host Chicago on Friday facing adjustments in the wake of Veldheer's injury.

"It's like having a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle and you're trying to fit those pieces together, and the longer you work at it, the longer you look at it, the easier it is to put those pieces in place," coach Dennis Allen said. "I think we're getting closer to figuring that out."

Alex Barron will start at left tackle Friday. Allen said he's not inclined to move right tackle Khalif Barnes, leaving Willie Smith, newcomer Tony Hills and recently moved guard Tony Bergstrom available to play on the left side.

Meanwhile, rookie offensive tackle Menelik Watson practiced for the first time since Aug 7. The second-round pick never made it to team sessions that day, aggravating a calf injury during drills. Watson worked at right and left tackle in limited snaps Wednesday.

"When Jared went out, it was another man down," Watson said. "Then the pressure was on a little bit on me personally to get back and help out. But we also knew we had to take our time and not rush anything."

Veldheer said he was hurt during a routine pass protection drill and simply never got better. He attempted to practice with a brace after an initial MRI, then decided on surgery 10 days later.

"I don't think any further damage was done," Veldheer said. "I think whatever happened initially was the thing they ended up seeing on the second MRI."

In the offseason, a doctored photo of Veldheer resembling the "Incredible Hulk" went viral. Veldheer does not believe overtraining had anything to do with the injury.

"The training protects all of that, for the most part," Veldheer said. "I'm not sure what I can do in the future to prevent that stuff, but I'll figure that out, too, and add that to the routine."

Notes – Rookie running back Latavius Murray, a sixth-round pick, had arthroscopic ankle surgery and is out indefinitely.

• Quarterback Terrelle Pryor switched his uniform number from No. 6 to No. 2, which he wore at Ohio State. He requested No. 2 when he joined the Raiders as a supplemental draft pick in 2011. But coach Hue Jackson gave him No. 6, presumably because he didn't want him saddled with the number worn by draft bust JaMarcus Russell.

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