When the Raiders recently signed tight end Tory Humphrey to the team, most fans were probably saying "who?" And for most people, you might be surprised to learn that Tory Humphrey has been an NFL player for seven seasons. In the NFL where the average career last about 4 years, that is pretty impressive for someone of whom few may recognize.
Most tight ends earn their name as a receiver. In a league where players on a fantasy team can be just as popular as the players on your favorite team, blocking tight end is a thankless job. Humphrey has already blocked his way to a nice career and with the Raiders he hopes to continue to do so.
Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen know the value in a what Humphrey has to offer. The team was looking to bring in another tight end this offseason and both McKenzie and Allen have worked with Humphrey in Green Bay and New Orleans respectively, and are very familiar with what he brings to the table.
"It feels great," said Humphrey. "It just goes to show you that if you work hard and show guys around the league what you can do that word gets around that you're a good player and a good teammate and coaches and GM's want that on their teams, you know, a good guy, good teammates that are gonna be there and be accountable.
"I don't know exactly what [McKenzie and Allen's] thought process was but I think that maybe had a little to do with it because Reggie, I was with him for four years so he knows what I can do. But I came out here and had to work out so I had to work for it. I think I had a pretty good workout so they signed me three weeks later."
That seven years in the NFL (one of which was on IR), Humphrey had just 13 catches. But while the other tight ends like Bubba Franks, Donald Lee, and Jeremy Shockey were getting all the catches and notoriety for the Packers and Saints, Humphrey was doing the dirty work.
"Blocking, playing on the special teams,... kickoff return, punt return, inside on punts, kickoff also."
It wasn't just his duties that caused the lack of stats. It was also time he spent injured.
"Well, first couple of years, I've been on IR three times. I broke my leg, broke my arm, but in Green Bay I was playing the fullback role, you know, blocking a lot. But whatever role anyone asks me to do, that's what I'm gonna do so, I can't complain."
Blocking is something Humphrey has been doing since high school. He played guard in High School his lack of ideal offensive lineman size had him switching to tight end in college at Central Michigan.
Humphrey will be battling it out with another tight end on the Raiders roster who is hoping his blocking skills will lead to decent career as well. Richard Gordon caught all of 11 passes his entire college career at Miami and has caught just one pass in his one year NFL career thus far. Humphrey had 68 catches for 863 yards in four college seasons.
Gordon played some at fullback last season much like Humphrey did in his early years in Green Bay. And with the similar skills by both players as blockers, it may actually come down to who shows themselves as a better receiver.
While Humphrey has the familiarity factor working in his favor, Gordon has been proving to his coaches that he may just have better hands than he is given credit for. Humphrey just arrived and is still learning the playbook so this competition will heat up come Training camp.