These Raiders need to step up after losing Hunter Renfrow to rib injury

These Raiders need to step up after losing Hunter Renfrow to rib injury

ALAMEDA -- Hunter Renfrow started his rookie season as an ancillary option in the Raiders passing game. The fifth-round draft quickly earned his spot at the team’s primary slot receiver, but it took some time to create the quick separation that was his signature at Clemson.

That gave him the opportunity to make one clutch collegiate play after another and, in recent weeks, Renfrow had started doing similar things in the pros.

He caught a long touchdown in Houston. He caught the game-winning score against Detroit. He had more catches and receiving yards than anyone else the past five weeks.

The term ‘Third-and-Renfrow” had become a thing on game day, with quarterback Derek Carr targeting him frequently to move the chains. He had 23 first downs on his 36 total catches for 369 yards, most of which had come over the last month or so.

That’s why losing him at this point is such a big deal. Renfrow suffered a rib injury and reportedly punctured his lung on Sunday against the New York Jets and is out a few weeks at least and it’s a possibility he’s done for the rest of this season.

“It’s a big, big loss for us,” Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said. “We’ve had a lot of turnover at that position this year, it’s really too bad. I’ll say this, Renfrow is going to be a great Raider. He’s really been playing good for us.”

Gruden listed off an few options to replace Renfrow in the slot. Keelan Doss was the first. He has experience and ability to play inside, but had a tough time earning an active roster spot on game day. Zay Jones played a ton in the slot in college but hasn’t done much of that here and hasn’t become a primary target after being acquired from Buffalo.

Tight ends Darren Waller and Derek Carrier can move around the formation. Waller already plays some in the slot, though coverage will follow him anywhere. Life might get even tougher on Waller without another trusted target, meaning coach must continue to scheme him open and find moments to get him involved.

The Raiders need more from Tyrell Williams on the outside as well. He has had less than 50 yards in three of the past four weeks and had a key drop against the Jets and in a few other games. He also hasn’t been steady enough in contested catch situations.

[RELATED: Raiders can overcome Jets debacle by learning from past]

“I think he’s had some foot problems,” Gruden said. “He’s missed a lot of time. He’s missed some games, and I don’t know if he’s 100 percent but he’s giving us everything he has and I admire him. I think he’s a good player. He’s fighting some tough times. He knows we need him.

“It has been a tough year at our receiving position. He’s had some tough moments. He’s also had some really good moments and hopefully we’ll see the best of him down the stretch.”

Las Vegas Raiders can use Tom Brady to build business, Jay Glazer says


Las Vegas Raiders can use Tom Brady to build business, Jay Glazer says

While Derek Carr was in Las Vegas for the Raiders' official rebranding this week, speculation about Tom Brady joining the Silver and Black continues to simmer.

Two weeks ago, The Athletic's Jay Glazer said that Brady to the Raiders is a "no-brainer" because it would help with ticket sales, among other things.

On Friday, Glazer added a bit more context when asked again about where Brady will play next season.

"I said it last week, the Chargers or the Raiders," Glazer wrote. "I spoke about the business side of things. You guys kind of jumped on me talking about how great ticket sales are for the Raiders. I don’t know if I said ticket sales or not but there’s way more than ticket sales when you’re building up a business. They can use Tom Brady to build the business of the Raiders, which will now be an international team. I say that because of all the big business whales from all over the world who are going to come to Las Vegas and now be exposed to the Raiders."

"That’s going to be a hot ticket. The international marketing will be huge. The Raiders are going to be big players internationally with that. That’s why I would think it’s a brilliant move to go to Vegas."

Brady, who will turn 43 years old before the start of the 2020 NFL season, is a free agent and could move on the Patriots, the only franchise he has ever known.

Carr is under contract with the Raiders for three more seasons, and recently said he is "looking forward" to being under center for the first snap in Las Vegas. But head coach Jon Gruden didn't give the most glowing endorsement of Carr after the regular-season finale in December.

All of this has fueled chatter that the Raiders could bring in Brady to help open their first season in Sin City.

[RELATED: Kiper has Raiders taking two Sooners]

While Brady led the Patriots to a 12-4 record this past season, his numbers declined, suggesting that his best days are behind him.

If owner Mark Davis and Gruden want to win games and continue to build a solid foundation for the future, they'll stick with Carr. If they are more concerned with making a sexy splash, they'll make the change to Brady.

Derek Carr 'looking forward' to being QB in Raiders' Las Vegas opener

Derek Carr 'looking forward' to being QB in Raiders' Las Vegas opener

Out of a possible 96 starts since being drafted by the Raiders in 2014, quarterback Derek Carr has been under center for 94 of them.

But after a disappointing 7-9 season, many Raiders fans have clamored for a change at the game’s most important position.

Carr, however, hasn’t paid the rumors or social media fodder too much attention.

“But I'll say it this way,” Carr said (h/t ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez). “I look forward to taking the first snap in that stadium, and I look forward to taking every snap from here on out -- until I'm done."

The 28-year-old had a career year in 2019, setting career-highs in passing yards (4,054), yards per attempt (7.9), and quarterback rating (100.8).

But coach Jon Gruden grew frustrated with Carr’s inability to throw the ball downfield consistently, and some potential free agent quarterbacks reportedly have caught the Raiders’ eye.

[RELATED: Raiders should pay attention to these 10 Senior Bowl stars]

As the team re-brands and moves into its new home in Sin City, some believe the team will bring on a new starting signal-caller to usher in the Las Vegas Raiders era.

Just don’t count Carr among them.