ALAMEDA -- Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson are locked into the Raiders starting lineup. They have been both dynamic and steady during training camp.
Receivers behind them on the depth chart haven’t been so strong.
Head coach Jon Gruden wants better from those guys.
“Hopefully someone can step up and will clearly emerge as the third receiver,” Gruden said Monday after practice. “… We need somebody to step up in that room this week.”
The Raiders will run a game-like practice week heading into Friday’s exhibition against the Green Bay Packers, and regulars will play an extended stretch.
Game performance could lift someone above the rest. The third receiver typically works in the slot, a spot Ryan Switzer manned during the offseason program and early in camp.
Griff Whalen has taken that spot over the last week.
Martavis Bryant is the most talented receiver, maybe in the entire group, but has been slow to absorb the offense and learn multiple receiver positions. Gruden has called him out on that, and has him working primarily with the second and third units.
There will be a competitive battle for receiver jobs, but it’s expected that Bryant and Switzer will end up taking control of snaps behind Cooper and Nelson. That isn’t guaranteed, however. Gruden wants more consistency and production from his wideouts.
“There has been some good and some, I don’t want to say bad, but there have been some ups and downs typical in training camp,” Nelson said. “Sometimes guys come out of the blocks fast and then slow down. Sometimes start slow and then pick it up. The main thing is being consistent.
“Keep reminding them that you can’t let the roller coaster get to you. You’re going to have good days and bad ones. You’re going to run good routes and bad routes. You have to continue to improve and continue to grind. If you do that, you’ll get the results you want.”
The Raiders need more from the slot, which could be an important role with threats on the outside. The competition there is an important one that quarterback Derek Carr is watching closely.
“Yeah, a couple of them are new, fighting for that spot. A couple have been banged up. So, I think we’re all sitting there excited to see what happens,” Carr said. “They’re all, I think, healthy. We’ll see. I think they’re all mentally ready, physically ready. Hopefully come game time, we can sit there and we can evaluate that spot. Because, obviously it’s important.
"When you have guys like Martavis or [Amari Cooper] Coop or Jordy on the outside, you have Jared [Cook] on the inside, someone is hopefully going to get a good matchup on the other side and in the slot, wherever we put them. We have to figure that out and it’ll be exciting. I’m just excited to watch how that goes this week, preparation-wise and then in the game.”