Raiders Sleeper Cell: WR Andre Holmes

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Raiders may have uncovered a real gem in Holmes. He was signed along with a group of tryout players with no fan fair. And why would there be? We're talking about a guy who had all of two career catches. But the Raiders saw something in him.

This 6-5, 208 pound receiver came into the league as an undrafted free agent with the Vikings. He spent camp with the Vikings but didn't make the team. Once cut, the Cowboys scooped him up and he spent most of the 2011 season on their practice squad. In 2012 he saw action in seven games for the Cowboys. That's when he had his two catches for a total of 11 yards.

He was let go by the Cowboys following the 2012 season and the Patriots immediately grabbed him. But for some reason, the Patriots didn't keep him even until they could see him in minicamp. Then it was the Raiders who came calling.

There were spots up for grabs with the Raiders and Holmes looked like he was set to take one of them. Then the bad news came down. He was to be suspended four games for violating the league's PED policy. He would be allowed to finish camp but should he make the team, he would spend the first four weeks not on the roster.

But wait, that actually wasn't bad news after all. If he was on suspension, it would mean the team didn't have to make a decision right away when the mandatory 53-man roster was to be filled out. Any decision on Holmes could wait four weeks.

The team knew by the end of camp and preseason, they wanted Holmes on the team. The only question was who would get the ax when he was activated. That player ended up being the quarterback who was once slated to be the everyday starter - Matt Flynn.

Holmes didn't see much action the first few weeks he was active, but by the fourth week things started to pick up. He had his first catch as a Raider. It went for 33 yards to help Matt McGloin get a win over the Texans in his first start. The following week, Holmes had two catches. The week after that, he was named a starter... and he blew up.

In true theatrical fashion, he got the first start of his career in Dallas against his former team - and he lit up the Cowboys with 7 catches for 136 yards. Think Tony Romo wasn't thinking of the possibilities if the Cowboys had had the sense to hold onto Holmes?

In that game Holmes showed he wasn't just a physical specimen as a receiver, but he knew how to use every bit of his 6-5 frame. If there was a jump ball, he came down with it every time. And when he wasn't plucking balls out of the air, he was running precise routes and making textbook catches.

He finished the season with 25 catches for 431 yards. That figure is all the more incredible considering he didn't see the field until week 6, didn't have his first catch until week 10 and didn't get his first start until week 12. He had 22 of those catches for 366 yards in the final five games which is on pace for 70 catches and nearly 1200 yards over a full season.

If he can continue to show this kind of production, he instantly upgrades the Raiders' wide receiver corps. He could be a viable third option or even take over as a starter full time. Pretty impressive for a guy who had all of two catches prior to this season.

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