As the Oakland Raiders progress through their mandatory mini-camp this week, head coach Dennis Allen is counting on wide receiver Denarius Moore to become their number one option in the passing game. Moore has the ability but was hampered by some inconsistency in effort and production a season ago.
“I’d say he’s the guy that’s got the most experience out there right now,” Allen said. “He’s a guy that we’re counting on being our number one receiver, but we need all those guys and we need some of those young guys. I think, at the end of the day, we’ll have five, maybe six, receivers, somewhere in there, that have a chance to help this football team.”
Moore finished last season with the team lead in targets and touchdowns. If he wants to be the number one wide receiver, the Raiders are counting on him to be, the third year man will have to bring production each week. He had a terrific stretch last season catching six touchdowns in nine games. However, he also disappeared catching one pass on three different occasions. He never had more than five receptions in a game all of last season.
Allen realizes Moore’s potential, but also has the presence of mind to know the other wideouts will need to develop for Moore to thrive. Two second year men in Rod Streater and Juron Criner are the two most logical options. Streater was the better of the two last season with 39 receptions for 584 yards and three touchdowns. If he can take the leap this offseason with more opportunities and reps, the Raiders will get a big boost.
“That’s really where you see the most growth in players from year one to year two,” Allen said. “They’ve had these experiences. They’ve had a chance to learn from a full season and you anticipate them growing and developing and continuing to get better.”
Criner received a great deal of hype and praise during the 2012 offseason workouts. However, when the season began his playing time was limited. He has the frame to become an ideal redzone target because of his size and strength. During a five week stretch near the end of the season, Criner caught 14 of his 16 passes for 122 yards and his lone touchdown. He still needs to improve his overall skills including route running and separation.
“A guy like Juron Criner is a guy that needs to become more involved,” Allen said. “He’s a guy that we’re looking forward to kind of step up and fill a role for us. As a rookie last year, he didn’t see much play time. He had a great off-season and made a lot of big plays for us in the off-season. Then we kind of lost him a little bit as we went along.”
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