With the release of the Oakland Raiders first depth chart this season, some of the camp battles are becoming a bit more clear. Although, there are still some questions. We notice that Taiwan Jones is listed ahead of Mike Goodson in the battle to back up the oft injured Darren McFadden. Shawntae Spencer is still listed ahead of DeMarcus Van Dyke despite Spencer getting torched on an almost regular basis and Van Dyke shining while filling in for Ron Bartell. Probably the biggest mystery, though, had to be who the starting tight end is.
Well, wonder no more. Brandon Myers is listed as the top guy, and although it’s not really a big shock, there were some questions coming into training camp. All through the offseason there has been speculation regarding the position. First question was, would the Raiders bring in a veteran tight end to start and mentor the younger players? Well, the offseason pretty much stayed quiet on that front. The Raiders never even gave an indication that they might be interested.
The next question to be answered was, would David Ausberry live up to his potential and unseat him? Well, one of Ausberry’s biggest supporters is non other than the guy throwing the passes, Carson Palmer. In fact, they even did some training together in the offseason. Palmer has raved about Ausberry’s talent and potential. There’s no doubt that Ausberry has the talent. He’s got great speed for a tight end, and he’s big and strong. Unfortunately, his blocking is still a work in progress, and thus far in training camp he hasn’t really set the world on fire.
Myers has outshined Ausberry in the one area that Ausberry was supposed to be at his best. Receiving. While Myers hasn’t been flashy in camp, he has been very very consistent. Ausberry, on the other hand, has flashed but has also had more drops than you would expect to see from him. That inconsistency has him third on the depth chart behind blocking specialist Richard Gordon.
Dennis Allen Described it like this “I think he’s kind of worked himself into the number one guy. But I don’t know that,uh…the depth chart is consistently changing, so he’s number one right now. Two weeks down the road we will see where he’s at.”
When asked what Myers has done to establish himself as the #1 guy, Allen said; “Well he’s done a nice job at trying to be consistent. I think from a receiving stand point, that’s probably where he’s a little bit more advanced as far as kind of knowing what to do and where to be.” Then Allen proceeded to say he needed work in an area we all thought was Myers’ specialty. Blocking. “We’ve got to continue to work with him on the physical part of the game in the run blocking.” Allen said.
The coach did, though, confirm one thing we all know about this tight end corps: ” …I’ve said this all along, I think with the tight ends we have, we’ve got some versatility and each guy has a unique skill set that we plan on trying to use.”
So while Myers is the starter, you’re still going to see the other guys quite a bit. There will be two tight end sets, and formations where a bigger, better blocker like Gordon will be necessary. Also, Ausberry will be used to create mismatches against slower linebackers. Overall, I think Raider Nation should feel comfortable with the group of tight ends that Palmer will be throwing to.