Raiders look to define wide receiver roles

Raiders look to define wide receiver roles
August 21, 2014, 4:30 pm
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Juron Criner has 183 career receiving yards, Brice Butler has 103 career receiving yards and Greg Little has 1,821 career receiving yards. (AP)

GREEN BAY, Wis. -– The Raiders don’t have a prototypical No. 1 receiver on the roster, but they believe the unit can still be strong.

Individuals have different strengths, which could help the whole when used correctly. In that vein, the go-to guy will vary based upon the situation.

“I think all these guys have a role that they can play in our offense and we’re going to play a lot of guys,” head coach Dennis Allen said. “All of them bring a little something different to the table and we’ve said from the beginning that we want to be able to take a look at some different lineups and we’ve done that.”

Rod Streater is a smooth route runner with good hands. James Jones can be a solid possession receiver and a real red-zone threat. Andre Holmes is good downfield and can secure catches in the air. If a pass hits Denarius Moore in stride, he can do damage after the catch.

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All of those guys have done time with the first team in an attempt to define roles. That will certainly continue on Friday against the Green Bay Packers, when principal players will see significant snaps.

“Right now, we’re just trying to find different combinations and different ways to do it,” quarterback Matt Schaub said. “We have a lot of confidence in every single one of those guys because they have all shown the ability to step in and make plays.”

While the aforementioned receivers seem to have secured a roster spot, final selection (or two) remains up in the air.

The Raiders started last season with five receivers, but finished with six because Greg Jenkins was the kickoff return man.

That pits Brice Butler, Greg Little and Juron Criner against each other for what could be one roster spot.

Butler, a seventh-round pick in 2013, has had a strong few weeks highlighted by a 4-catch, 71-yard receiving effort last week that included the game-winning touchdown versus Detroit.

Little was claimed off waivers from Cleveland. While he has big-play ability few others on the roster have, the drops that plagued Little as a Brown remain.

Criner has been out with a hip injury, but has potential that hasn’t been tapped.

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Butler, who hasn’t been formally cleared to play Friday after suffering a concussion, is worried more about himself than the competition.

“I had a lot of stuff that happened to me in college,” he said. “So the way I handle things now is I don’t worry about what anybody else is doing and keep my kitchen clean which means go out and do what I’m supposed to do every day and my work will speak for itself.”

The Raiders are looking for more consistency across the depth chart. There have been too many drops, so sure hands may be the deciding factor in what will be some tough cuts.

“We’re looking for the group that gives us the best chance to be successful,” Streater said. “I really like what we’ve been doing on film, and if we keep growing as a unit, we’ll make this a strong passing game.”