Sunday, August 19, 2012
Rookie receivers now key for Raiders
By Bill Williamson
Rod Streater and Juron Criner have been the stories of the summer for the Oakland Raiders.
Good thing. The rookies may be needed when the regular season starts. After two injuries and a now questionable trade, the Raiders are dangerously thin at receiver, which was one of the deepest positions on an otherwise thin roster.
Streater, an undrafted free agent, and Criner, a fifth-round pick, may be called to duty soon. Yes, they have been good -- particular Streater who has 13 catches in the preseason -- but the regular season is a different animal. The two must rise to the challenge.
Starting receiver Denarius Moore has been dealing with a lingering hamstring injury all camp. Fellow starter Darrius Heyward-Bey has a shoulder injury that the team doesn’t think is overly serious. However, No. 3 receiver and return man Jacoby Ford, has a sprained foot on the same foot that cost him several games late last season. Ford’s availability to start the season is in jeopardy.
Oakland traded reliable Louis Murphy to Carolina prior to training camp for a conditional seventh-round pick. The Raiders thought Murphy was expendable because of all of their promising talent at the position. What worried me about that trade was a team with overall depth problems probably shouldn’t give up quality players. The Raiders would feel a lot better right now if Murphy was still in Silver and Black.
Oakland’s receiving group is susceptible, at least, for now. Expect to hear more about the idea of picking up a veteran like Plaxico Burress or Chad Johnson. I’ve been against that idea. I admit, because of the injuries, the idea of Burress or Johnson may be creeping closer to becoming worthwhile.
However, in the long term, I still think Oakland is better off developing its young receivers. That begins with Streater and Criner, who just may get their chance to prove they belong as soon as their NFL careers begin.