ALAMEDA -- The ascension of Menelik Watson to starting left tackle of the Raiders is part desperation and part necessity.
A second-round draft pick out of Florida State, Watson will get what offensive coordinator Greg Olson called a "baptism by fire" in the loudest environment in the NFL when the Raiders visit the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday night at CenturyLink Field.
Watson, who played at Saddleback College with Kyle Long, the son of Raiders Hall of Fame defensive lineman Howie Long, has been at CenturyLink before when it was much quieter.
"I spoke to Howie Long, and he was telling me about it," Watson said. "It's a loud venue. I got to see it coming out of junior college on my visit to Washington. It should be interesting."
Raiders coach Dennis Allen said Watson, along with quarterback Terrelle Pryor and cornerback D.J. Hayden, will remain in the exhibition finale with the second team after most of the starters have departed.
"He hasn't taken a snap in a game situation and he needs all the work he can get," Allen said.
Watson was considered a raw prospect coming out of the draft because he only played 19 football games at Saddleback and Florida State, all as a right tackle. He was late to football, originally playing college basketball at Marist College.
A calf injury kept Watson out of all of training camp except for a few drills, during which time he aggravated the injury. He finally got on the field for team sessions last Wednesday.
With Jared Veldheer out following left triceps surgery and veteran Alex Barron getting starts against New Orleans and Chicago, the Seattle game provides the only opportunity to see what Watson can do heading into the season opener Sept. 8 at Indianapolis.
"The question is whether or not time is on your side in getting a good evaluation, and the only way we're going to get that evaluation is to let him play," line coach Tony Sparano said.
Watson has so little experience that Sparano believes the problems associated with a switch from right tackle to left tackle are minimized "because he doesn't have a history. His bad habits are easy to break."
Having grown up in Manchester, England, Watson played soccer before gravitating to basketball. He even dabbled in boxing before being talked into playing football.
Watson has uncommon footwork for someone who is 6-foot-4 and 315 pounds.
Because of what Sparano calls "left tackle qualities" related to Watson's athleticism, the Raiders discussed in the offseason giving him time on the left side. That way he could be a swing tackle who could play on the left side if Veldheer went down and compete to start on the right side.
The process has been accelerated because of Watson's extended absence and Veldheer's injury.
"It's very technical, and things happen a lot quicker on the left," Watson said. "Obviously, it's the blind side, so you have to be double about your wits."
Cornerback Joselio Hanson (groin) and running back Latavius Murray (ankle) were placed on the injured reserve list, meaning neither can play for the Raiders this season. Cornerback Mitchell White was waived.
Hanson had an interception in the Raiders' 34-26 exhibition loss to Chicago, but came out of the game with the injured groin. Allen said an MRI determined it to be a "significant" injury.
Murray, slow to recover from recent arthroscopic surgery on his ankle, remains property of the Raiders and can make another run at the roster starting next offseason. He was a fifth-round draft pick out of Central Florida who had eight carries for 29 yards in the exhibition opener against Dallas. He didn't play against New Orleans or Chicago.
Is Terrelle Pryor the right man to quarterback the Raiders? Discuss this and more with Raiders beat writer Jerry McDonald on Wednesday at noon at www.mercurynews.com/raiders.