In approximately one month, the Oakland Raiders will begin training camp where a front runner will emerge and take the starting tight end job. As of now, the Raiders like the completion between David Ausberry, Brandon Myers, and Richard Gordon because it forces everyone to make progress each day.
“As far as the tight ends position? Yeah, absolutely,” Raiders head coach Dennis Allen said. “And really, I don’t really see it a whole lot different than a lot of other positions. We’ve got competition at every single position right now, which is healthy. It’s good. It gets all of us better. I don’t think there is a clear-cut favorite at that position for sure and those guys are doing the right thing. They keep coming to work every day and they keep trying to get a little bit better every day. As long as they do that, they’ll be fine.”
Both Ausberry and Gordon were drafted in the 2011 NFL Draft, but have very little experience. However,both guys have shown great potential, Gordon as a blocking tight end and Ausberry as a pass catcher. As a college wide receiver, Ausberry gives the Raiders the best deep threat and receiving tight end option. Gordon has improved his receiving skills, but blocking remains his biggest strength.
“I tell ya, he’s athletic, for as big as he is, he’s really athletic,” Allen said of Gordon. “He runs really good. He’s learning to play the tight end position. He’s a work in progress, but I think he’s done a nice job so far.”
The last competitor for the tight end job is Brandon Myers. He has the most experience of all the players having started 12 games in his three year Raiders career. In 2011, he made 16 receptions for 151 yards. Because of his edge in experience, quarterback Carson Palmer believes Myers will win the battle and be the starter.
“That position produces a lot in Houston,” Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer said. “Our offense is similar to Houston, but it’s not the same. You have a good feel that Brandon Myers is going to be probably the guy, but behind him you don’t know. There’s three guys that want that spot so there’s going to be a lot of competition at that spot, and all those guys are similar but each is really good at something the other guy isn’t, which is exciting. Because, in this offense, you can do so much with that position, whether it be in the run game or the pass game. Each guy has a different set of tools and they’re all really good. So that’ll be another interesting spot.”
Raiders' new offensive coordinator Greg Knapp spent the last two years as the quarterbacks coach for the Houston Texans. That leaves many to believe he will bring some of what Houston has done in those years to Oakland. If that is the case, the tight end position will be important in Knapp's offense. In the last two seasons for the Texans, starting tight end Owen Daniels caught 38 balls in 10 starts in 2010 and made 54 receptions in 15 starts in 2011. Also, at the tight end position, back-up Joel Dreessen made contributions. Whether it was when Daniels was injured or just producing in different two tight end packages, Dreessen caught 36 passes in 2010 and another 28 in 2011. With that production from the tight end position, all three tight ends competing for the starting job can all have an impact despite who wins.
“I think we’re going to try to figure out who all those weapons are that we have and we’ll find out the things they do well and we’ll try to get them to do those things and limit the times we ask them to do things that they’re maybe not as good at,” Allen said of the tight ends. “So the one thing I’d say about the tight ends is what was perceived to be an area of weakness coming in, I’ve seen some significant improvement and I’m looking forward to seeing what they do in training camp.”
Be sure to check out other great articles at Sports Media 101.