Season review -- Raiders TEs

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Season review -- Raiders TEs

After just four seasons, Zach Miller was starting to be compared to Raiders greats at tight end like Dave Casper and Todd Christensen, so valued and utilized was the tight end position in Oakland's offense. So after Miller left for Seattle and Kevin Boss signed, production wouldn't skip a beat, right? Wellthere's no doubt the Raiders' tight ends were not the weapon they were the previous three seasons, when Miller led Oakland in receiving. But their blocking did enable the Raiders to maintain a healthy rushing attack. Still, the lack of a constant checkdown threat down the middle of the field limited their offense, especially on third down. Grade: D

TIGHT ENDSKevin Boss -- He was supposed to be the big-ticket free agent acquisition that made losing Miller all the more palpable. And while Boss, who signed for four years and 16 million, had better stats than Miller -- Boss caught 28 passes for 363 yards and three TDs, compared to Miller's 25 receptions for 233 yards and no scores -- Boss was far from the integral part of the Raiders' offense that was Miller the previous three seasons, when he averaged 61 catches, 756 yards and three TDs before signing with Seattle for five years and 34 million. A knee injury in the exhibition season at San Francisco slowed Boss' integration into the offense and he missed the first two games. His 28 receptions were his fewest since his rookie season with the New York Giants, when he caught nine balls for 118 yards. A mysterious benching against Denver on Nov. 6 was followed by better production. Consider: he caught four passes from Jason Campbell and his highlight was the 35-yard catch-and-run touchdown he had on a fake punt from Shane Lechler against Cleveland. Concussions in Week 7 and in the season finale summed up Boss' first year in Silver and Black.Brandon Myers -- More a special teams standout, Myers caught a career-high 16 passes for 151 yards in his third season. His blocking skills -- and not his penchant for being mistaken for QB Carson Palmer -- is what's given him staying power, even with Boss nicked up for stretches this season. Unfortunately for Myers, his most memorable play of the season never happened. Not officially, anyway. Myers had a sweet 36-yard forward flip-pass touchdown at Kansas City on Dec. 24 wiped out by penalty. The play clock had expired just before the ball was snapped. It was pretty, though.David Ausberry -- The seventh-round physical specimen was a receiver at USC who showed his receiving skills with an exhibition-game TD catch against Arizona but was not active until the Raiders' third game of the season. On the year, the rookie caught two passes for 14 yards. Ausberry's biggest contributions came on special teams, especially when he recovered an onside kick against Chicago on Nov. 27 to seal Oakland's victory.Richard Gordon -- Perhaps the best blocker in the tight end group, the sixth-round draft pick actually found work as a fullback early on, starting there against New England in Week 4. But a broken hand suffered against the Patriots sidelined the rookie for two weeks. Gordon ended up catching one pass for two yards in that Patriots game.

Donald Penn: Raiders players trust McKenzie will add right pieces

Donald Penn: Raiders players trust McKenzie will add right pieces

The Raiders were pretty darn good last season. A 12-4 record proved that point. There was plenty of talent on a team with a penchant for high-wire acts in victory that masked the fact there were holes on the roster.

They need to be filled for the Raiders to improve in 2017, and new players will be imported through free agency and the draft.

Left tackle Donald Penn is excited to see who gets added, but said there’s no doubt talent is coming to Oakland. He speaks for Raiders players, who have faith that general manager Reggie McKenzie will make the right moves.

“Things that Reggie has done in past drafts have been great, and we’re looking forward to seeing what he brings back towards us,” Penn said recently during an in-studio appearance on NFL Network. “We can’t wait to get back out there healthy. We’re ready to hit the football world with a storm.”

While new guys are coming, a few might head out. The Raiders have several unrestricted free agents. Penn wants to keep his guys around – he mentioned running back Latavius Murray by name -- though he has some ideas for McKenzie’s checklist.

The Raiders don’t need much with most key players under contract – the Raiders should be less active in free agency over past offseasons – but a few key components could put this team over the top.

“If we stick to Reggie’s plan, we’ll be great,” Penn said. “I know he’s going to have a great draft, add a couple little pieces here and there – maybe somebody in the secondary to help out a little bit.

"On offense, you could always use a weapon. Maybe we get another receiver to take (pressure off Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper), but we have a good nucleus right now.”

Raiders LT Donald Penn: QB Derek Carr 'almost 100 percent'

Raiders LT Donald Penn: QB Derek Carr 'almost 100 percent'

Derek Carr is on the mend. The Raiders franchise quarterback had surgery to repair his fibula shortly after he broke it in a Week 16 victory over Indianapolis, and is recovering well during the offseason.

Carr insisted on intense rehab this winter in an attempt – however unlikely it may have been – to return should the Raiders have played in the Super Bowl. It slowed to a normal pace after the Raiders' loss at Houston in the postseason’s opening round, but those in contact with him say he’s making strides.

Left tackle Donald Penn was recently in contact with Carr, and provided an update on Monday during an in-studio appearance on NFL Network.

“I texted Derek (a few) days ago checking in,” Penn said, “and he said he’s almost 100 percent.”

Surgically-repaired broken filbulas take significant time to heal, and the Raiders plan to be conservative with their MVP candidate during the offseason. Derek Carr’s brother and NFL Network analyst David Carr, who was on set with Penn on Monday, said Derek could be back for offseason work.

“He’s doing good,” David Carr said. “He’s walking around already, stretching it out. You can’t do a lot for the bone, right? But he’s going to be back. He’s going to get a whole full offseason in. That’s going to be the best part.”