Lost in that notion, however, is the emergence of some of their younger players. That list includes, but is not limited to, second-year tight end Doug Jolley. After a slow start, Jolley became a trusted target for quarterback Rich Gannon.
New York Giants Rookie of the Year Jeremy Shockey garnered ample attention after catching 74 passes for 894 yards and two touchdowns. Jolley, meanwhile, was the best rookie tight end last season not named Shockey.
So far Jolley has turned into a nice second-round gem from BYU. Jolley began last season as a lesser-known commodity but progressed very well in the second half of the season.
Despite being hampered with a hamstring injury for much of last year's training camp, Jolley became stellar weapon in the Raiders offense. Jolley is an adequate blocker but his biggest asset is his pass-catching skills. Jolley finished the regular season with 32 receptions for 409 yards and two touchdowns.
Jolley was increasingly productive in the second half of the season, as he became a trusted target for quarterback Rich Gannon. After Game 8, Jolley caught 36 passes for 456 yards and three touchdowns – including the playoffs.
"I feel good," Jolley said. "I'm looking to improve everything pretty much. I'm looking to improve my techniques, running routes, blocking and everything like that so I can continue to improve on my game."
The Raiders will need Jolley to continue his progress since the depth behind him is a bit shaky with Roland Williams and Mondriel Fulcher each recovering from knee injuries that placed them on injured reserve. The 6-foot-4, 250-pound Jolley has the speed to create mismatches for safeties and linebackers. Jolley can especially create mismatches when he goes in motion before the snap.
Vince D'Adamo can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com