The Oakland Raiders have some young, talented players at the tight end position, but that hasn't stopped head coach Dennis Allen from expecting more out of the group. When the Raiders brought in quarterback Matt Schaub via trade, they brought in a quarterback who relies on his tight ends. Schaub has a history of using tight ends as a primary part of the offense. That has left the Raiders searching for a player at the position to step up and be a reliable target for Schaub.
“You try to address those needs as best you can,” Raiders head coach Dennis Allen said. “I don’t know that you ever get everything that you want. It’s kind of like when you go and sit on Santa Claus’ lap. You ask for a bunch of stuff, and you get about half of it. That’s kind of where we’re at. I feel good about having some young guys at the tight end position and we’re going to need those guys to step up. Somebody in that room has to step up and say that they’re the guy. I think we’ll all know when that time comes.”
Allen presented a clear challenge to the tight ends on the roster. With Schaub running the show, his history indicated that more than one tight end will be highlighted in the offense. In the seasons where Schaub played all 16 games, the number of receptions for tight ends spikes. In 2012, Schaub connected with Owen Daniel 62 times, James Casey 34 times, and Garrett Graham 28 times. That makes it 124 receptions form the tight end position. In 2010, Schaub connected with Daniels 38 times, Joel Dreesen 36 times, and James Casey eight times. In 2009, Schaub connected with Daniels 40 times, Dreesen 26 times, and Casey six times.
“Matt Schaub is a tremendous player,” Raiders tight end Davis Ausberry said. “He came from Houston. He is tight end friendly, so that’s pretty good for us. We like Matt. He’s a good leader, great football player and is good for this team.”
The candidates for the Raiders to step up at the tight end position are David Ausberry, Mychal Rivera, Nick Kasa, and Brian Leonhardt. Ausberry has shown flashes of skills, but missed all of last season with a chipped bone and torn ligaments in his shoulder. He is recovered and looking to show all the promise he possesses. Rivera stepped up last season into a reliable target catching 38 passes for 407 yards and four scores. Kasa and Leonhardt have yet to see much game time, but will have an opportunity to show their skills this offseason.
The defense has noticed all four guys trying to bring their games to the next level. Linebacker Sio Moore, who practices against the tight ends frequently, is confident in the group.
“The thing is, we have so many good tight ends,” Moore said. “We have Nick Kasa, we have Mychal Rivera, we have [David] Ausberry, Brian Leonhardt. We have guys that are really multiple. David is big, he’s fast, he runs like a wide receiver and he can block. Mychal is the same way. People don’t think he’s strong, but he’s actually really strong and he’s crisp on his route running and he’s very precise. You have to respect these guys when they go out there and they’re only going to make us better at being able to lock down other tight ends.”
Tags: David Ausberry, Dennis Allen, Football, Matt Schaub, Mychal Rivera, NFL, Nick Kasa, Oakland, Oakland Raiders, Sio Moore, Tight Ends