OXNARD, Calif. – With “preliminary reports” suggesting second-year tight end Nick Kasa suffered a season-ending injury to the ACL in his left knee in practice on Tuesday, the Oakland Raiders are in the market for another tight end.
Paging Jermichael Finley?
The Raiders were already thin in experience at tight end when training camp opened. Then David Ausberry, who has all of nine catches for 106 yards in 28 career games yet was listed atop the team’s first depth chart of 2014, underwent a “procedure” on his left knee last week.
That left Mychal Rivera, who had 38 receptions for 407 and four touchdowns as a rookie in 2013, Brian Leonhardt, who spent all of 2013 on the practice squad, and Kasa, who had one catch for a nine-yard touchdown reception as a rookie, as Oakland’s top three tight ends, with rookie free agents Jake Murphy and Scott Simonson behind them.
Oh, and there is no timetable for Ausberry’s return.
Again, paging Jermichael Finley? The 27-year-old tight end has 223 catches for 2,785 yards and 20 TDs in his six-year career and has a relationship with Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie from his time in Green Bay. Finley, though, had a career-threatening neck injury last season and was limited to six games with the Packers.
Many see the Raiders as already having a tight end-level talent on the roster in two-time Pro Bowl fullback Marcel Reece, who played receiver in college and is expected to be more involved in the Raiders’ passing game.
Reece, though, is just 6-foot-1, short for a tight end.
“Yeah, you know, we use him in that same role a lot,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said on Sunday. “I mean, him and Mychal Rivera really do a lot of the same types of things. There hasn’t been a lot of thought process about putting (Reece) as an in-line blocker…but some of the things that we do with him are very similar to what we do with the tight ends.”