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Penn aims for more than TD record: 'I want to win a Super Bowl'

Take a trek to Napa, California, when training camp opens for the Silver and Black this summer, and you'll find that Oakland Raiders training sessions mirror most other NFL practices.

Quarterbacks toss the ball back and forth, and offensive linemen work on breaking off the line.

Other position groups are somewhere in between. But you won't find 340-pound left tackle Donald Penn with the latter -- not at first, at least.

You'll notice him with the quarterbacks, channeling his inner Amari Cooper or Michael Crabtree -- both of whom weigh more than 100 pounds less than Penn.

"When we go out to practice and the quarterbacks are warming up, I go and catch passes the whole time," Penn said in an exclusive interview. "I'm like, 'Hey, you see these hands?' I catch them the whole time. 'You see these hands?'"

Penn has lobbied coaches for touches ever since he caught a 15-yard pass at St. Bernard High School in Playa Del Rey, California.

"He's been bugging us since I got here," Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said after Penn caught a touchdown pass last October against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, his former team.

Penn's lobbying has worked. He caught two touchdown passes as a Buccaneer and has two more with the Raiders. He is tied with former Vikings defensive lineman Kevin Williams for the most regular-season touchdowns (4) by a player over 300 pounds, according to NFL Research.

William "The Refrigerator" Perry -- the 335-pound defensive lineman who scored two regular-season touchdowns (in addition to his famous Super Bowl XX touchdown carry) during his tenure with the Bears -- inspired Penn to wear No. 72. Already ahead of Perry, Penn is confident he'll break the overall 300-pound touchdown record.

"It's just a matter of time," Penn said. "I would love to get the record. That would be something. That would be nice. That would be sweet."

Still, don't confuse Penn's apparent lust for an obscure record as his primary motivation for playing one of the NFL's most demanding positions at age 34. He wants to win, and he wants to win in a hurry.

"I really want to win now, because I don't plan on playing much longer]," Penn said. "I want to win a [Super Bowl. That's really one of the only reasons I'm still playing now. It's not for the money, or anything like that. It's to win the Super Bowl and get a Super Bowl championship."

Unfortunately for Penn, he hasn't come close.

He has played in just one playoff game compared to 160 regular-season games. The first game he ever missed to injury was last year's AFC Wild Card Game against the Houston Texans.

With Penn and star quarterback Derek Carr each out with injuries, the Raiders lost, 27-14. Penn can't help but feel a bit to blame as he watched from the Raiders' bench, sidelined with the knee injury.

"I kind of felt a little worthless," Penn said. "You kind of wish there was something more you could do to help the guys. It was a very emotional week for me because it was the first game I missed ever in my career, going back to high school and college. It was tough."

Even tougher might have been the injury that shook the AFC playoff landscape just two weeks prior.

Penn fired off the line in Week 16 to protect Carr's blindside -- as he'd done all year without allowing a single sack. This time, though, Penn met his match with Colts defensive end Trent Cole, who powered past Penn with equal bouts of strength and speed.

Penn lost his footing, as did Cole. A moment later, Cole wrapped up Carr by the legs, twisting him to the turf at the Oakland Coliseum. Penn took some time to get up. Carr sat up immediately, hollering "It's broke! It's broke!" as the Raiders' medical team and coaching staff rushed onto the field. When Penn rose, he hovered over his quarterback with a group of other concerned teammates.

As a cart took Carr to the locker room, he asserted to the driver the same conclusion he made on the field: "I think I broke it." He did. Carr suffered a season-ending broken fibula. Penn's lone sack allowed in 2016 was a costly one, and he knows it.

"That one play made a difference in our season," Penn said. "I've got to try to find a way to make sure that doesn't happen again. I try not to think about it as much, but it's something that constantly gets brought up. It's something that sticks with you."

Luckily for Penn, it's not the only aspect of the 2016 season sticking with him. He's fresh off the second Pro Bowl appearance of his career, and he plays for a team generating plenty of offseason buzz heading into training camp.

A fully-healthy Carr recently became the highest-paid player in the league, and the Raiders locked up Penn's fellow offensive lineman Gabe Jackson with a five-year extension as well. Penn couldn't be happier.

"It's great, man," Penn said. "I was there when Derek got drafted. I was there when Gabe got drafted. And I've watched these guys grow into the men they are and the players they are. So it feels great. It's well-deserved, so I'm happy for those guys because they've put in the necessary work to get there."

When Carr inked his five-year, $125 million deal in late June, he had more than just dollar signs on his mind. He thought about his teammates.

"We figured out a way to do it so that we have the opportunity to sign the other guys that I think are important to this organization," Carr said after signing his new contract. "The bottom line is, we're able to move forward to keep all the players we need to keep in the correct timing. This affords us to do that. We'll start on that ASAP."

A week and a half later, Jackson signed his extension. But will Penn get a new contract when his deal expires after the season? The Raiders took a chance on him when Tampa Bay cut him after the 2013 season. He'll need them to take another. Oakland has a potential replacement for Penn in offensive tackle David Sharpe, who the Raiders selected in the fourth round of this year's draft. It remains to be seen when, or if, Sharpe takes Penn's place.

Penn believes he has two or three years left in him.

"I would love to finish my career with the Raiders," Penn said. "You know, [I] grew up a Raiders fan, and now [I'm] playing for my childhood team. [I've] got a chance to retire for [my] childhood team. So that would be like a real good fairytale ending."

Even a one-year extension might be worthwhile for Penn. As the Raiders enter a title window that could last for years to come, Penn's tenure in the league nears its end. But all he wants is a championship ring -- and to break the big-man touchdown record, too.

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