Raiders tight ends figure to get lot of attention this season

Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE

It was just two season ago the Raiders' leading receiver was a tight end - Brandon Myers. And it was two seasons before that when a tight end was the team's leading receiver three straight years - Zach Miller. Well, those days of tight ends being featured in the offense could be back this season.

Matt Schaub has long been tight end friendly. David Ausberry Monday said is excited at having Schaub as his quarterback and expects the Raiders to emphasize the tight end and even multiple tight ends.

"He's tight end friendly, so that's pretty good for us," said Ausberry. "We watched film on him before he came. He likes the tight ends, he likes to use the middle of the field, so we'll be there for him."

Dennis Allen said last week that the Raiders had high hopes for Ausberry last year before he was lost for the season with a shoulder injury. He is in line to be the starter once again and in an ideal situation for a tight end with Schaub behind center.

For the past seven years Owen Daniels was the recipient of Schaub's affinity for tight ends. In the six season prior to last season when Daniels was injured and Schaub was benched, Daniels averaged 669 yards receiving per season.

Three of those seasons, Joel Dreessen even saw a good share of catches, averaging nearly 400 yards receiving per season. There was often even a third tight end who would put up decent receiving numbers.

In 2009, he threw 1209 yards to three tight ends Daniels (519), Dreessen (320), and David Anderson (370). And in case you were wondering about the rest of the receivers, Andre Johnson was All Pro that seasons with 1569 yards of his own.

Schaub spread out over 1000 yards of receiving among multiple tight ends four straight seasons from 2009 to 2012.

This is music to the ears of the Raiders tight ends. There may not be a proven star in the bunch but they're hoping this season their star can rise. Ausberry is looking to finally get his career on track after three years, Mychal Rivera is looking to improve upon a pretty good rookie season in which he caught 38 balls for 407 yards and 4 touchdowns, and Nick Kasa is hoping to see some passes this season as well after a quiet rookie campaign.

The team didn't bring in any veteran free agents at tight end and didn't spend any draft picks at the position either. This would seem to suggest they have a lot of faith that the group they currently have can handle the job.

After the three above tight ends the Raiders have several undrafted hopefuls trying to fight their way onto the team either as a fourth tight end, an injury replacement, or simply beating out one of the three incumbents. Brian Leonhardt returns as a UDFA from last season with rookies Jake Murphy and Scott Simonson. Not exactly household names. Not yet, at least.

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