This preseason Keon Hatcher burst onto the scene, catching 8 passes for 128 yards and 3 touchdowns in the final preseason game. Jon Gruden used that performance as his reasoning for Hatcher making the regular season roster and Martavis Bryant getting cut.
Most people figured that was not really the reason. The real reason being that the team feared Bryant would be suspended. Then after week one of the season, with Bryant not getting suspended and his contract becoming non-guaranteed, they re-signed him and cut Hatcher. This basically confirmed everyone’s belief Gruden was not being altogether honest about things.
Regardless, Hatcher — who was on the Raiders’ practice squad in 2017 as well — had shown enough talent in camp and preseason to earn a look.
Gruden went as far as to joke that there was a ‘push’ to keep Hatcher on the team
“I probably would’ve got thrown out of the airplane if we did not keep Keon after that game.,” said Gruden. “But he kept our eye. He had a great offseason. He’s under the radar. He’s undrafted. Practice squad a year ago. Caught a lot of touchdown passes at Arkansas. But when you put him in a game, he converts third downs. He can make big plays. We’re happy to have him aboard.”
With Hatcher waived after the opener, he eventually signed onto the Packers’ practice squad. With the Raiders receiving corps suffering injury after injury — including Brandon LaFell’s a ruptured Achilles Sunday in Arizona, Hatcher was the natural choice to return due to his familiarity with Derek Carr and the Raiders offense.