David Ausberry is establishing himself as the starting tight end for the Raiders. He showed himself to be on the verge of breaking out last off-season before disappearing last season. Aside from one very memorable play (sorry, Kevin Burnett), he barely saw the field.
Ausberry took a backseat to fourth year tight end, Brandon Myers. But as a second tight end in an offense which focused on tight ends as much as the Raiders did, one would expect more than his 7 catches for 92 yards.
According to Dennis Allen, Ausberry's issues stem from the mental side of things.
"The concern with David Ausberry has nothing to do with physical ability," said Dennis Allen. "It's really a lot more about the mental aspect of the game, understanding how to play the tight end position. He's worked extremely hard. We always knew that he had receiving talent. Where he's improved the most is No. 1, assignments, he's been a lot better on his assignments. And No. 2 is his ability to block both in the running game and pass protection."
Ausberry has all the abilities necessary to be a very good tight end in this league. He shows it consistently in camp practices. Raiders fans have seen it in small doses in games as well. Now the job is his to lose and his transition from wide receiver, which he played in college, looks to be complete.
"It's much better than when I started playing tight end," said Ausberry. "There's still room for improvement, but the transition was a big one. It's a whole different world in the trenches. My blocking is better, but that's come with experience and a whole lot of reps."
The time is now for Ausberry. The team drafted two tight ends in the sixth round to provide some insurance but they didn't go out and sign a big name free agent to play tight end with the idea that he would be ready to step up and be the man.