ALAMEDA -- Menelik Watson spent most of his rookie season battling injuries and learning the nuances of the NFL. As training camp nears, Watson is making good on his vow to use what he learned in his first season with the Raiders as a steppingstone.

"He's attacked this offseason with a purpose, and a purpose to earn a starting spot on that line," Raiders coach Dennis Allen said Monday. "Hopefully he'll continue to improve the way he has in the OTAs."

First and foremost, Watson has been healthy enough to practice throughout this offseason, which gives him a huge jump on replacing departed veteran Tony Pashos at right offensive tackle.

Watson missed most of training camp last season when he arrived with a calf injury that he suffered in a non-football activity.

Soon after he recovered from his calf injury, Watson hurt his knee and missed the first seven games. Overall, started three of the five games he played.

Late in the season, Watson admitted that he wasn't properly prepared for the rigors of the NFL. He said he intended to work harder, alter his diet accordingly and make sure that he was ready to roll when he got another opportunity.

For now, Allen is giving Watson the first crack at the starting spot at right tackle. It's up to Watson from here on out.

Allen said it's evident that Watson has worked hard at his craft. The work manifests itself in Watson's improved technique and fundamentals.

"The thing I like about where Menelik is right now, I like his mindset," Allen said. "I like his mentality. I like the way he's going about doing his job. He's worked at it."

It's conceivable that the Raiders will have four new starters on their offensive line. Center Stefen Wisniewski is the lone returner assured a starting job.

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