Oakland Raiders tight end Brandon Myers at 2012 OTA's (photo by Levi Damien)
The tight end situation is becoming more clear in Raiders camp and according to head coach Dennis Allen, the clear cut starter until further notice. David Ausberry was looking early on this offseason like he was going to make a strong play for the starting job but things have cool off for Ausberry since then while Myers continues to play well in all facets of his game.
"I think he's kind of worked himself into the number one guy." Said Allen. "But I don't know ... that depth chart is consistently changing. He's number one right now but two weeks down the road we'll see where he's at.
"He's done a nice job of trying to be consistent. From a receiving standpoint, that's probably where he's a little bit more advanced as far as knowing what to do and where to be. We have to continue to work with him on the physical part of the game and the run blocking. Again, I've said this all along, with the tight ends that we have we've got some versatility and each guy has a skill set that we plan on trying to use."
Since he was chosen in the sixth round out of Iowa back in 2009, he has been labeled as a blocking tight end and not much more. But Myers has never really thought that label was very accurate.
"It's funny, I was deemed the blocking tight end." Said Myers. "It's funny, because my friends back home are like, you know, you've always been able to catch a little bit.. It's been a slow progression. Coming into college I was 220, 215, so it's taken some time, but I've just tried be all-around. You see a lot of times going with specialty guys but I try to pride myself on being able to do both and not taking me off the field for certain situations."
Myers has been showing off his abilities as a reliable receiver in this camp. Going in with the confidence of being the number one guy has likely helped with that. Though according to Myers, it wouldn't matter one way or the other.
"I think as a player you've always got to think you're the starter. Even in years past I thought that, prepared that way, if someone goes down, something like that, you're always prepared. That's kind of the approach that I've taken."
I can't recall him having a single drop in this camp and several times has made some pretty impressive catches. Today in particular, he shook McClain and caught a short pass across the middle with Rolando McClain in coverage. McClain ended up trailing the play and watching Myers go for about a 20 yard gain. Just before that play, he was wide open up the sideline but Palmer didn't see him on what would likely have been a touchdown.
On the other hand, Ausberry has some issues with consistency in the receiving game and is not at Myers' level as a blocker either. He has had a few drops here and there and despite his extensive work with Palmer in the offseason, there are some timing issues between the two.
Outside of those two, there is Tory Humphrey who has has shown himself well as an all-around talented player and Richard Gordon who is by far the best blocker in the group although he is not much of a threat as a receiver.
As Allen said, there is still a couple weeks of camp and there is still time for things to change. The Raiders will also work out of a lot of two tight end sets which means there will be a lot of plays to go around for the top two guys. Ausberry still has the best shot at getting playing time or perhaps be the starter. But it is hard to foresee him overtaking Myers any time soon.