Raiders LT Donald Penn, S Obi Melifonwu make debuts Saturday

ALAMEDA, Calif. — Obi Melifonwu spent much of Raiders’ training camp trying to get healthy. Donald Penn spent all of it hoping to be paid.

On Saturday, both will make their preseason debuts.

Melfionwu, a rookie safety and second-round pick, and Penn, a Pro Bowl left tackle, will face the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Coach Jack Del Rio made the announcements Thursday during a press conference that followed a light practice.

Penn is expected to see action with the starters Saturday.

Typically, during a team’s third exhibition, the starters play at least the entire first half and possibly more. Del Rio kept quarterback Derek Carr and the first-team offense on the field into the third quarter in both of his previous two seasons as the Raiders’ head coach.

Penn, 34, ending his contract holdout on Wednesday. Asking him to play into the third quarter after two practices would be a lot to ask.

“We’ll get him a few reps,” Del Rio said. “We’re not going to play him long. … There’s a difference between game conditioning and football conditioning and being in shape. He’s in shape. He’s a veteran guy. He understands what he needs to do. So physically, he’s in condition now. It’s a matter of him going through the timing of getting his body in sync with the demands of what we do.

“We’ll ease him in, give him a little bit this weekend. We gave him a little bit through the week of practice, and we’ll be ready to roll.”

Melifonwu missed several camp practices this month in Napa, California.

His participation level has increased this week. Notably, he’s worked while having his left ankle taped. Officially, the Raiders have not disclosed his injury.

“I thought Obi had a good week of practice, and we look forward to seeing him Saturday,” Del Rio said.

Conley getting closer

He is sprinting. He is cutting. He is changing directions.

At this rate, Gareon Conley soon could be practicing, too.

The cornerback and first-round pick has not practiced since suffering a shin injury during a June minicamp.

The team has not disclosed a timetable for when he will resume team activities, although he has made steady strides in his rehabilitation.

Conley resumed running on Aug. 10.

The team will next practice on Monday. Its preseason ends Thursday against the Seattle Seahawks.

More Raiders: Follow all of our Oakland Raiders-to-Las Vegas coverage online at and @NFLinVegas on Twitter.

Contact reporter Michael Gehlken at Follow @GehlkenNFL on Twitter.

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