When the Oakland Raiders brought in wide receiver Andre Holmes, expectations were low. He was a player who spent two seasons with the Dallas Cowboys playing in seven games and catching two passes. The Raiders claimed him off waivers before the 2013 season. He sat out the first four games of 2013 because of a suspension, but began to slowly and steadily earn playing time. He came on strong toward the end of last season and has continued his meteoric rise for the Raiders during 2014 training camp.
When the Raiders released their first preseason depth chart, Holmes was listed as the starting wide receiver opposite Rod Streater and ahead of free agent signing James Jones. It is an early assessment of how things could play out, but it speaks to the improvement and progress Holmes has made in such a short time.
“Yes he has surpassed what we thought we were getting when we brought him in here, and there is still a lot that he can improve on,” head coach Dennis Allen said of Holmes. “Yeah, I’m happy with what we’re getting out of Andre Holmes. I think he is going to be a real factor for us this year.”
When Holmes earned his opportunity last season, he really impressed. He finished the season with 25 catches for 431 yards and one touchdown. That production came in just 10 games and four starts. He made his coming out party on Thanksgiving against the Dallas Cowboys with seven catches and 136 yards. He followed that up with three straight games of at least 50 receiving yards.
“Being able to have some film from last year and being able to watch that and see the types of things that I needed to do to become a better receiver allowed me to have kind of a benchmark in trying to increase my skill level,” Holmes said. “Before that I didn’t have anything, because I didn’t really have any game tape.”
Holmes has a terrific combination of size, quickness, and physicality that enabled him to be effective last season. At 6-4, 201 pounds, he did a nice job of controlling his body and out-jumping cornerbacks to get the ball at its highest point. He also showed strong footwork to come down with the ball under control to secure catches in bounds.
“His size and his speed, for a big guy, very long, long strider, has a big burst up the field, can separate and then go up and get the football,” quarterback Matt Schaub said of Holmes. “I mean that’s exactly what you want from a receiver, and I’m excited to get out there and see what he can do in game action. But he’s a big, big threat for us.”
With all the praise and renewed expectations, Holmes has no delusions that the work stops here. He made it to the top of the Raiders early depth chart, but needs his development to continue.
“Yeah, it’s a good feeling, but I still look to improve in many areas,” Holmes said. “People could get complacent being in that position, but I really know that I have a lot to work on, and that’s what I’m trying to do right now in this camp.”
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Tags: Andre Holmes, Dennis Allen, depth chart, Football, James Jones, Matt Schaub, NFL, Oakland, Oakland Raiders, Rod Streater