One of the more surprising observations in minicamp on Wednesday was undrafted free agent rookie Rod Streater running with the first team offense. Denarius Moore went out yesterday with a hamstring tweak and his role in the offense needed to be replaced. And Streater got the call.
On one hand, this is a bit of a surprise. Streater went undrafted out of Temple this year which would one would expect would have him in a fight just to make the roster. No one expected him to have worked his way to the top of the depth chart this soon.
He and Criner have been running second team behind Denarius and Darrius Heyward-Bey at the boundary receiver spots. Jacoby Ford continues to start at slot receiver in three receiver sets.
Both Criner and Streater have played fantastic in camps with Criner backing DHB and Streater backing Denarius. So in that regard, it isn't too much of a shocker that Streater steps up. By the same token if DHB had gone out, Criner would have stepped up to the first team in his stead.
Less shock would have been involved in Criner's case firstly because he was drafted unlike Streater. He has also been the talk of the camps with his acrobatic catches ala Denarius in 2011 training camp.
The Raiders had their eye on Streater in the draft and considered drafting him had they not already gotten their guy in Criner.
"He was a guy that during the draft process that we had our eye on." Said Dennis Allen. "It's strange how the draft process works out sometimes. You don't take a guy, sixth, seventh round, but you really like him, and he was a guy that happened to be there as a free agent, and he was a guy we really targeted and wanted to get him here."
"Around the sixth round they called me, but they didn't tell me anything really. Just wanted to see where I was at and everything, talk to me a little bit and just told me if it played out, just to hang around and stuff."
But truth be told, if it weren't for Criner's heroics, Streater would be the talk of camp. Allen has mentioned him in particular several times. Today, Streater's play took center stage.
"I think he's earned the right to get the reps," said Allen. "He's done a nice job. He's a young guy. He's continuing to improve... He's caught the ball extremely well. He's run very good routes. He knows how to get open. He's been explosive as a receiver. Again, he's still a young guy, he's still learning, he's still making those rookie mistakes, but from an athletic standpoint, from a skill set standpoint, he's really impressive.
From all indications, Streater is a very similar type of receiver to Denarius Moore. He is taller than Moore (6-3 to 6-0) but he despite his three inch height advantage, he is just ten pounds heavier (200 to 190). As Allen pointed out, he runs good routes, gets open, and is explosive. He also has shown some nice hands. Allen was quick to temper expectations just yet, saying "I think we're kind of getting ahead a little bit." With regard to the comparison with Moore. After all, Denarius was incredible in camp last year and earned his way to being Carson Palmer's favorite target.
But Allen does admit there are some similarities.
"I think he's a little bit of the same type of player (as Moore). He's a good route runner. Not unlike Denarius not a lot of people knew a lot about him and he came in here and did a nice job and caught a lot of people's eye and that's what this kid is doing."
The wide receiver corps continues to look very impressive. With one more minicamp practice left before a month and a half off, the clear cut favorites are DHB, Denarius, Ford, Criner, and Streater. That leaves just one spot open for the likes of Louis Murphy, Eddie McGee, Duke Calhoun, and a host of rookie hopefuls.
Just one more day of mini camps left. Be sure and follow me on Twitter for my in practice tweets @LeviDamien.