Another week, another newly added receiver who the Raiders will look to for a boost in their wide receiver corps. Keon Hatcher, who spent 2017 on the Raiders practice squad and the offseason with the team, is back. The Raiders re-signed him off the Packers’ practice squad as the latest receiver who they will ask to make an immediate impact.
The latest injury happened to Brandon LaFell, who was lost for the season with an Achilles injury. At one time LaFell was in a similar position to Hatcher. LaFell went from inactive most weeks without a single catch, to starting for the Raiders following the trade of Amari Cooper to the Cowboys.
The week after LaFell became Carr’s primary target, the Raiders lost Martavis Bryant and Jordy Nelson to knee injuries. Those injuries had them activating 7th round rookie Marcell Ateman for the first time and he too was a starter who played nearly every snap.
“Jordy [Nelson] and Martavis [Bryant] are up in the air,” said Jon Gruden said of the statuses of his top two receivers. “We will have Keon Hatcher taking the majority of the reps, and Dwayne Harris today. Hopefully, we get some guys healthy soon.”
Nelson has been a limited participant in practice all week and Friday Gruden sounded pretty optimistic he could play. Though even if he does, it remains to be seen how much he’d see the field. And if he doesn’t end up playing, “Keon Hatcher will be ready to play,” according to Gruden.
Hatcher is familiar with the offense, making his return to the team the obvious choice, but he must still get a crash course after spending most of this season with the Packers.
“The language [in Green Bay] was totally different,” said Hatcher upon his return to Oakland.
“I know the (Raiders) playbook inside out, every position, so I think I’ll be out there pretty quick hopefully,.”
“He’s a very intelligent player, we knew that when we released him. It was like riding a bike for him,” offensive coordinator Greg Olson said of Hatcher. “He’s done a nice job. Edgar Bennett has done a nice job getting him back up to speed and done some good things here the last couple days.”
Hatcher may not take as featured as LaFell and Ateman were in their breakout games, though, because they will have Ateman as well as Seth Roberts and potentially Jordy Nelson as well. And as Ateman and Roberts showed last Sunday against the Cardinals, it’s also about what they do without the ball in their hands.
“He loves football. I can tell you that about Keon,” said Carr. “He’ll do the dirty work. He’ll go in there and block extra. If he doesn’t get the ball, he’s going to run and try to peal somebody off. In the run game, he’s going to try to put somebody on their back. That’s just him. He loves football. To do that at the wide receiver position, it’s really cool.”
Carr was not shy about throwing for LaFell or Ateman in their first starts, so you’d have to figure Hatcher would factor in if the coverage dictated.
“I feel like Derek has some trust in me,” Hatcher added. “He knows I can catch the ball, He’s knows I’m going to be where I’m supposed to be when I’m supposed to be there. It’s about repetition, getting back out there, throwing and catching the ball and just going and making plays.”