One story in a series, looking at position breakdowns for the Oakland Raiders, who arrive for training camp in Napa, CA, on July 24. Today – a look at wide receivers:
The Oakland Raiders made a nice discovery along the way to becoming the NFL's most feared passing attack.
That finding was tight end Doug Jolley, whom Oakland drafted in the second round of the 2002 draft. While New York Giants phenom Jeremy Shockey garnered a lot of attention, Jolley turned into the tight end Oakland hoped Rickey Dudley would become. The Raiders drafted Dudley in 1996 with the 10th overall pick and let him leave as a free agent after the 2000 season after five mostly underachieving seasons.
Jolley began last season as a lesser-known commodity but 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's development could not be more of a necessity because Roland Williams continues to recover from a torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee, a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament and some meniscus damage in the regular season finale against Kansas City (a 24-0 Raider win).
Williams, who had been playing with a turf toe injury, is not slated to return until the end of training camp.
Oakland also drafted Teyo Johnson (Stanford) in the second-round. Johnson, however, would be considered a project because he left school two years early and is also making a position change from wide receiver.
Mondriel Fulcher, like Williams, is recovering from a knee injury. Fulcher spent the entire 2002 on injured reserve. Marcus Williams contributed most to special teams last season. Oakland also signed O.J. Santiago.
The Raiders are not likely to keep more than three tight ends so unless Roland Williams does not recover sufficiently from his injury, Marcus Williams, Fulcher and Santiago are going to be hard-pressed to earn a roster spot.
The tight end position, however, is crucial because even though the Raiders have gone to a lot of three-receiver sets, the also employ multiple tight end sets to bolster the blocking scheme.
Vince D'Adamo can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com