Raiders wide receiver, Andre Holmes, got off to a rough start in camp this year. The team signed him this off-season and on the second day of training camp, he was told he would be suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the league's PED policy. Since then, his performance on the practice field has given the coaches plenty of reason to ride it out and keep him around.
This is Holmes' third training camp in the NFL and even with the suspension looming, this could be his last best chance of making an NFL roster.
The former undrafted free agent came out of Jared Veldheer's alma mater, Hillsdale college where he racked up 104 catches for 1368 yards his senior season. He spent his rookie camp in Minnesota and last year was in camp with the Cowboys down in Oxnard. He has learned a great deal after his first two stops about what it means to distinguish himself and earn a spot on a roster.
"I think especially since this is my third training camp you realize that every day is important, especially in training camp," said Holmes. "Every day is like a game. . . well the preseason is like the Super Bowl, you know what I mean? You gotta go out there and show your worth and just because you do it the first four days of camp, you gotta keep doing it every single day."
Holmes has been doing it every day of camp, even if it is only four days. While some of the Raiders receivers have been struggling with drops, he was not among them. He has also become a favorite target for the quarterbacks.
On play in team sessions today, he got behind Taiwan Jones into the corner of the endzone, lept up to pull in a Tyler Wilson pass and kept his feet in for a touchdown. It's plays like that which have had the 6-5 roster hopeful one of the more consistent performers on the team. It was a well run route and he held onto the ball in routine fashion.
"Right now the consistency is where I'm getting a little better," said Holmes. "I'm catching every ball. That's the biggest thing for me so I think that's the bottom line there. I think obviously intelligence of the game, knowing the defense, running your routes, I've gotten better at."
His play is all the more impressive when you consider he could have let the devastation of facing a suspension even if he were to make this team out of camp. He admits that he has felt the pressure to perform since the ruling came down.
"I'm trying to move forward from it," said Holmes. "You know, just fighting through. . . I'm putting it behind me so that then I can continue to do the things that I need to do and just get better. That is the bottom line is getting better every single day. So, yeah, there's pressure, but I'm putting it behind me so that then I'm not feeling that pressure, I'm just doing what I would have done before."
There are six more practices for a total of eleven prior to the Raiders' first preseason matchup against the team he spent camp with last year. If he can remain consistent between now and then, he could show is former team as well as his current team he is worth being activated in week five of the season.