NFL: Oakland Raiders' Menelik Watson wants starting job and has playoff aim
Last Updated: 16/07/14 12:51pm
Menelik Watson: Relishing the chance to play at Wembley in September
Britain’s Menelik Watson is hoping to help the Oakland Raiders secure a place in the playoffs during the upcoming NFL season.
The Manchester-born right tackle was drafted by the Raiders last year but struggled with injuries in his rookie season and made only a handful of appearances.
Watson, who is set to play in front of a home crowd when the Raiders face the Miami Dolphins at Wembley on September 28, is hoping to get his professional career back on track in 2014.
“I’m definitely (hoping for) the starting job. We’re trying to win. I haven’t been doing much talking this off-season,” he told Sky Sports News.
"We’ve brought in a lot of pieces and acquisitions. We’re going to make a change, we’re going to let our playing do the talking."
“I’ve just been trying to get back into the grind I was in when I was at junior college and Florida State. I feel like the best opportunity to show people what you can do is when you just work and don’t talk.”
Watson is a relative newcomer to the sport having played it for the first time at junior college in California before moving on to Florida State, an apprenticeship which lasted just four years in total.
The 25-year-old believes his season spent mainly on the sidelines has allowed him to become more familiar with the finer points of the game.
He added: “It was great from a mental aspect. I got to watch a lot, observe, understand the business and understand the game.
“It was two years (at Florida State) and then I got into the NFL, so it was learning process and I gained a lot of experience.”
Oakland have not qualified for the playoffs since 2002 but having finally wiped a number of cumbersome contracts from their salary cap, the coming season is being billed as the start of a new era.
“We’ve brought in a lot of pieces and acquisitions. We’re going to make a change, we’re going to let our playing do the talking,” Watson said.
“We’ve (drafted) the young kid Khalil Mack – he’s a great guy and a great prospect. He’s something rare. We’ve brought in guys like Justin Tuck, (LaMarr) Woodley and Donald Penn. Guys who are going to bring experience, a couple of Super Bowl winners."
He added of the post-season aim: “That’s exactly what we’re working for, it’s what we’ve been working for this whole off-season.
“In the off-season we’ve been fighting (in practice), there have been battles out there. It’s been fun for me because it’s been really physical and guys have been getting at it.
“Guys understand where we need to be as a team and where we need to be as a franchise, so we’re all putting in that work and it’s going to pay off.”