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Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Juron Criner biding his time with Raiders

By Paul Gutierrez

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Juron Criner went home to Las Vegas during the Raiders' bye weekend and, with the way the receiver's second pro season has gone thus far, would you be shocked if he hit a certain table in the gambling mecca and crapped out?

Criner, the second of Oakland's two fifth-round draft picks in 2012, has yet to be active for a game this season ... after appearing in 12 games last year and catching 16 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown.

"I'm not really sure what it is," Criner said this week. "I just come out, work hard and do what I'm supposed to do and wait for my number to come up.

Oakland's Juron Criner
Juron Criner has not seen the field during the 2013 regular season.
"It's frustrating but you can't let it frustrate you. I'm a young guy, I'm a young receiver, I got time. They have other options that they're going with right now. I can't do anything but respect that. But if I let it get me down, it will only put me further under. It won't help me any."

Since being selected out of Arizona, the purported physical red zone target who has size (6-feet-3, 221 pounds) and soft hands has been surpassed on Oakland's depth chart by the undrafted Rod Streater, 2013 seventh-round draft pick Brice Butler and free-agent pickup Andre Holmes, who had to serve a four-game suspension for a failed PED test.

And yet, as one league source wondered aloud, who is Criner going to play ahead of on the Raiders now?

"I think he's got to continue to do something on a day-in and day-out basis to catch the attention of myself and the offensive coaches," said Raiders coach Dennis Allen. "Really when you look at it, the players really determine who plays. The guys that go out and practice the best, the guys that make the most plays in practice then make the most plays in the game, those are the guys that go out there and play."

Criner was a rookie camp star two springs ago as a member of general manager Reggie McKenzie's first draft class and also shined in the first round of OTAs.

Then, something happened.

"They're confident in what I can do with my abilities," Criner said. "But I can always practice harder, run faster everywhere. There's always little things you can do.

"My practice habits are definitely getting a lot better, so I feel like it's really helping me a lot being in this situation and having to take practice a lot more serious. So, it's definitely helping me as a player."

Criner said his becoming a forgotten man in the Raiders receiving corps was not necessarily a reflection of a poor work ethic, that the coaching staff simply decided to go another route with the pass catchers at their disposal.

While Allen's earlier words would seem to contradict that train of thought, the Raiders obviously still like something about Criner. Otherwise, he would have been cut long ago, right?

"Yeah, he's an athletic guy," Allen said. "He's a big guy. He's got good hands. But he's got to be able to do it on a more consistent basis, day-in and day-out."

Criner said he realizes this, while acknowledging he needs to keep his not dressing on Sundays from bringing him down mentally.

"Just stay positive," he said. "All the receivers are good guys. We're all tight, we're all friends. So, just having a positive attitude a lot around me, it helps me."

And yes, Criner said he has approached receivers coach Ted Gilmore for advice.

"At the end of the day," Criner said, "all I could do is still wait."