For the second time this season, a Raiders wide receiver went from being inactive every game to starting and playing almost every snap. Brandon LaFell did it in week eight, going from being inactive nearly every game of the season without recording a single catch to starting and playing 92% of the snaps. Seventh round rookie Marcell Ateman has now done the same.
LaFell got his start after the team traded Amari Cooper to the Cowboys. He came in as Coop’s replacement, while all other receivers’ roles remained the same. Those other receivers were Jordy Nelson and Martavis Bryant who have since been lost to injury ushering in Ateman’s first ever NFL appearance and start in the same game.
In this game, LaFell was also lost to what appears to be a season-ending Achilles injury, making Ateman that much more valuable. He would play 65 snaps (96%) in the game.
“I thought Marcell did some good things,” Gruden said Monday. “He handled some audibles . . He made some very good blocks, even on the Seth Roberts play to set up the field goal. And he had a big catch. So, I was really pleased with Ateman. It wasn’t too big for him. He was confident, he was under control, he was calm, and he made some plays.”
Ateman has had an interesting rise. He didn’t make the regular season roster and was waived in the final round of roster cuts. He cleared waivers and was placed on the practice squad. He was called up to the roster on October 23, also as a response to the trading of Cooper to the Cowboys.
To go from practice squad to starting and playing nearly every snap in a game in less than a month is something. It also shows just how desperate the Raiders are, with four of their top five receivers now not playing or not on the team.
Ateman responded with 4 catches for 50 yards, including the biggest catch of the game that went for 32 yards to help set up the game-winning field goal. Seth Roberts’s 20-yard catch to follow made the field goal a short one.
Raiders week 11 snap counts