Last season the Oakland Raiders passing attack was in anemic in the nicest terms of putting it. Tight end Brandon Myers and fullback Marcel Reece were the Raiders top two receivers last season. With a new coach and a new offensive coordinator for yet another season, the receiving core will once again be under the spotlight and trying to break through with a productive season and enigmatic receiver Denarius Moore will be the Raiders player that Allen will be counting on most to have a breakout 2013.
Moore led Raiders wide receivers with 51 receptions for 741 yards and seven touchdowns in 2012. Still, he appeared to regress from his rookie season. In that year, he burst onto the scene as a consistent playmaker, in Year Two Moore got benched during a game late last season for uninspired play.
To be fair the 2012 Oakland Raiders were a team to forget in all regards so it is hard to fully blame Moore for a season that was not as sparkling as his rookie year where he looked like the Raiders weapon of the future. Still, Allen is not giving up on Moore’s potential to be a primary facet of the Raiders passing attack.
“He’s a guy that we’re counting on being our No. 1 receiver,” Allen said in post-session camp media availability, continuing on that the key to the Raiders aerial success will be predicated on everyone pitching in as a unit regardless of who the primary target is. “But we need all those guys at the end of the day, we have five, maybe six receivers that have a chance to help this football team” said Allen on his options at wideout at minicamp.
The Raiders get back Jacoby Ford from a foot injury that sidelined him all of last season, who will be back as one of the fastest players in the NFL and will surely help the new Raiders passing attack by being a deep ball threat for either Matt Flynn or Terrelle Pryor. Reggie McKenzie also drafted Brice Butler and signed Cleveland Browns speedster Josh Cribbs as well as Conner Vernon and Sam McGuffie. Cribbs, one of the Raiders top free agent signings was at camp on Tuesday, but did not participate.
With Juron Criner and Rod Streater showing promise last season as rookies, the Raiders are looking at a heavy arsenal of pass catchers if everything goes according to plan heading into the fall. Allen said he expects significant growth from both Criner and Streater next year, something that Streater echoes.
“I feel like a vet,” Streater said of his experience heading into his sophomore season. “Just over a year, I felt like I learned so much, from coverages and plays and things like that. I feel like I understand a whole lot more and can contribute more than I did last year.” Streater caught 39 passes in 2012 for 584 yards and three touchdowns and those numbers should go up if everything goes according to plan.
With new quarterbacks giving a reprieve from the troubles of the passing attack under washed up Carson Palmer and the deep talent pool of receivers to choose from, Allen said all it takes for one of the receivers to become the go-to receiver is showing the ability to catch the ball and make plays on a consistent basis, something that bodes will for offensive coordinator Greg Olsen as the Raiders look like a team that will be
“We need guys to go up and make plays for us,” Allen said. “It’s understanding the route combinations, understanding the different techniques of running certain routes. Those are all certain things that you gain from experience. What a receiver is paid to do is go up and make plays on the ball and that’s what we’re looking for.”
After Day One of camp where spirits were low and the quarterback play of Matt Flynn and Terrelle Pryor was scrutinized across the NFL during a slow news period, it is nice to hear some positive news out of Raiders camp. Dennis Allen is counting on Flynn and Pryor to develop a relationship with a wide receiver pool that is deep and long on internal competition. With tons of speed and explosiveness in the mix, expect the Raiders receiving core to be one of the areas of positivity out of the camp season. Whether the quarterbacks will put it together, well that is still a question that remains to be answered.