Oakland Raiders place Donald Penn (groin) on IR

Once a symbol of reliability, Donald Penn is headed back to injured reserve.

The Raiders are placing the starting right tackle on IR due to a groin injury suffered Sunday, coach Jon Gruden told reporters Wednesday.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport and NFL Network's MJ Acosta first reported the news.

Penn went down in the middle of game action for the second straight week on Sunday, calling into duty rookie Brandon Parker. The week prior, Penn left Oakland's loss to the Miami Dolphins in the third quarter with a concussion. Veteran T.J. Clemmings replaced Penn, but evidently didn't do well enough to earn a second shot at it, being left inactive for Oakland's Week 4 win over Cleveland.

Healthy scratches probably won't come Clemmings' way now, though Parker should be expected to fill the void left by Penn. The rookie posted what Pro Football Focus would consider to be an average game (a grade of 60.6) in pass protection, allowing four total pressures on 39 snaps. Surprisingly, his grade is better than Penn's season-long average of 41.1, including 11 total pressures allowed (9.4 percent of dropbacks).

The injury could prove to be a significant point in Penn's career. The longtime left tackle shifted to the other side of the line to make room for first-round pick Kolton Miller, and after years of ultra dependability has now encountered injuries that have placed him on IR in two straight seasons, and lower-body injuries in three consecutive campaigns (an ankle injury kept him out of Oakland's playoff loss to Houston in January 2017). Penn agreed to take a pay cut entering the 2018 season, leaving just $1.75 million of his 2019 salary guaranteed (per OverTheCap.com), the last season of his current deal. When considered alongside his run of injuries, the fact he's 35 years old and has 178 games' worth of mileage on him, it's fair to wonder whether 2018 might be Penn's last season.

Oakland foresaw something like this, spending first- and third-round picks on Miller and Parker, respectively, in April's draft.

The good news: Penn still has a chance to return, thanks to the early timing of his injury. How much he plays after that is left to be determined.

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