Undrafted receivers holding up well for Raiders
Rod Streater and Andre Holmes are perfect examples of how things have changed with the Oakland Raiders in the post-Al Davis era.
Though both are fairly swift on the field, neither of the two wide receivers is particularly fast, a trait Davis always favored in his players. Streater and Holmes are also more possession-type receivers who are better on the sideline and crossing routes than they are at getting deep.
The two have something else in common. They both went undrafted, Streater in 2012 and Holmes the year before that.
Over the past three weeks, however, the duo has been among Oakland’s most productive players.
Holmes, who spent two mostly nondescript years in Dallas before signing with Oakland this past offseason, caught a career-high seven passes for 136 yards in Oakland’s 31-24 loss to the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day. He also made a stellar 33-yard leaping reception against Houston two weeks prior to that game against his former team.
Streater, on the other hand, is averaging nearly 17 yards a catch in his past three games and leads the Raiders in receptions and yardage this season.
”When you don’t get drafted, that kind of puts you back but it also gets you that edge,” Streater said Monday. ”You want to work hard and you always feel like you’ve got something to prove. That’s kind of the thing with Andre. It was like the perfect situation going against the Cowboys. They let him go, and he was undrafted.”
The Raiders have been trying to stabilize their receiving corps most of the season, with very little luck.
Denarius Moore, a fifth-round pick in 2011, was the team’s leading receiver until going down with a shoulder injury against the Texans on Nov. 17. He has been inactive each of the past two games and no timetable has been given for his return.
Jacoby Ford, a fourth-rounder in 2010 who averaged 18.8 yards as a rookie, has been mostly absent from Oakland’s offense. He caught a season-high three passes against Dallas after getting shut out the previous three games.
Streater had already been getting regular reps with the offense. The injury to Moore opened the door for Holmes, who missed the first four games of the season while serving an NFL suspension for a performance-enhancing substance.
”You look across the league and there’s a lot of undrafteds starting and a lot of undrafteds playing,” Holmes said. ”It’s what you do on the field on Sunday. It’s taken me three years to be able to do it and I think it’s just the development and me figuring out the skills that I need when I’m out on the field.
”Part of it could be opportunity and things like that, but I wouldn’t say that I wasn’t doing it before or anything like that. It was just the right time.”
Holmes had just two career catches going into the year. He spent 2011 on the Cowboys’ practice squad, then played in seven games for Dallas the following season before latching on with Oakland.
The 6-foot-4, 210-pounder was dominant against his former team on Thanksgiving. Holmes caught seven of the 11 passes thrown his way, averaged 19.4 yards a reception and just missed scoring his first NFL touchdown after making an adjustment to haul in a 15-yard reception from rookie quarterback Matt McGloin in the second quarter.
”He’s been doing this way back since camp,” Streater said. ”The four-game suspension kind of threw him out but you see he goes out there and makes plays. He might not be the fastest but if you put the ball in his area he’s going to come down with it.”
Streater’s success this season hasn’t been as surprising. A part-time starter for two years at Temple, he caught 39 passes and scored three touchdowns as a rookie in 2011.
This season, Streater has been more consistent. He’s caught a pass in every game and has had five or more receptions in four games, allowing him to overtake Moore as the Raiders’ leading wide receiver.
Streater and Holmes have been two of the few bright spots over the past month for an Oakland team that is reeling. The Raiders are 4-8 and have lost four of their last five heading into Sunday’s game against the New York Jets.
”We’re still right there,” Streater insisted.
Notes: The players returned to work after getting three days off following the loss to Dallas. The team won’t hold its first on-field practice of the week until Wednesday. … Running back Rashad Jennings (concussion) has not yet been cleared for full contact.