When healthy, Chaz Schilens is the unquestioned best wide receiver on the Raiders’ roster. The key word in the previous statement being that sticky term “when”.
With only 44 catches and 4 touchdowns in two seasons it might seem strange to outsiders that Schilens is the best target not named Zach Miller in the passing game but his potential is immense.
Keeping that in mind, the Raiders are being extremely cautious in handling Chaz and his injured foot.
After breaking his foot in a non-contact drill during an intra squad scrimmage against the 49ers last year, Schilens missed half of the ’09 season. Once the season concluded, the 6’4” route running ace underwent a procedure on the injured foot and as a result is being held out of all team activities until training camp opens in July.
So, just how injured is Schilens?
Taking the cautious approach is the right thing to do but if this is going to be an issue going forward then Darrius Heyward-Bey’s reported improvements are going to have to be more significant than simply not dropping balls as often as he used to. And while Louis Murphy was the most productive wide receiver on the roster last year, he’s going to have to show more consistency before he can be trusted as a clear cut #1 option.
More than enough blame was heaped on the fatback of JaMarcus Russell for the way last season went. However, ask anyone who saw the chemistry between Russell and Schilens and they’ll tell you that not having Chaz for the first half of the season was a huge loss for the offense.
Tom Cable made it clear that resting Schilens is nothing more than a calculated and cautionary measure.
“I think we’ll take our time with that, just to be smart,” Cable said. “I don’t want to do anything to set it back. If he’s there when we go to camp – which he will be – I’ll be happy with that.”
Let’s just hope that injured foot isn’t as frail as Jay Cutler’s ego. Jason Campbell will be a massive upgrade at QB but without a go-to-guy out wide you can expect more of the same results in the stagnant passing game.
And no, John Clayton, Terrell Owens is still not an option.