Raiders TE Zach Miller has led all Raiders receivers in receptions and yards over the last two seasons. The last time a WR led in the receiving category was Ronald Curry in 2007 when the QB slot was being juggled by Russell, Culpepper and McCown. And for the last time a Raider WR hit four digits in yardage? In 2005 Randy Moss gained 1,005 total yards for eight TDs.
The air game has been grounded in Oakland for quite a while. However, I’m not with “Team Panic” when it comes to the Raiders current crew of receivers. I’m willing to apply a liberal amount of patience and see what progresses.
As of today, the likely 2010 Raider WR’s are Chaz Schilens, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Louis Murphy and Jacoby Ford. Schilens, entering his third season, is the senior member of this crew. A fifth slot is open in my opinion, leaving speculation the Raiders could go shopping.
One of the greatest disappointments last year came during camp. Schilens broke a bone in his left foot. He didn’t return to the field until week 10 against the Chiefs. At that point, the QB circus was in effect, not much of a chance to set a rhythm. There are some durability concerns here now, but Schilens has all the tangibles needed to make him one of the best WR’s in the AFCW.
A bright spot for 2009 was the play of Louis Murphy who pulled in four TD’s and demonstrated some serious blocking abilities. Murphy was a key part in one of my favorite offensive plays. He escorted TE Miller downfield, allowing Miller to score against the Eagles. He’s got good size and hands, and could become a favorite target of QB Campbell.
The concerns about Heyward-Bey’s drops are being eased somewhat with reports from OTA’s. It seems like his hands have become friends with the ball. Rookie Jacoby Ford, a 4th round draft snag, will be playing behind Schilens.
Ideally, the Raiders would be in pursuit of a vet to provide some guidance for these guys. I have some thoughts on three of the better known names still available.
Vincent Jackson, RFA in San Diego. As it stands now, Jackson will be on vacation through week 10. The Chargers are making decisions out of spite, allowing Jackson to gather dust rather than explore trade options that could improve their franchise. Yet, teams are still calling them.
Terrell Owens, FA last with Buffalo. He will not be a Raider. I can state that with as much certainty as one can when speaking on the Raiders. Physically, he’s a paradigm. However, as long as he breathes and speaks, he comes with a warning label. Raider Nation has endured Randy Moss and Jerry Porter, the last thing needed is TO to complete the triad.
Laveranues Coles, FA last with Cincinnati. Coles interests me if only to add a veteran perspective. As a guy with a smaller stature, Coles could certainly mentor R Jacoby Ford. If the price was right, bringing him in could make sense.
While nothing would surprise me, odds are the Raiders don’t make any additional adjustments (through FA acquisitions or trades.) There’s promise in our existing crew. It’s time to see what they can do under leadership and consistency from the QB position, something they have never experienced at this level.
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Written by Julie Schloss