There are reasons to be excited about the Las Vegas Raiders after a two-game winning streak as they improved to 3-3 heading into a very winnable game at the Chicago Bears on Sunday (10 a.m. PT kickoff).
One of the reason for hope is the recent play of rookie tight end Michael Mayer. The second-round pick from Notre Dame had five catches for a team-high 75 yards in a 21-17 Week 6 home win over the New England Patriots on Sunday. Mayer showed off his ability to run with the ball after the catch.
After a slow start, Mayer has seven catches in the past two games and now has eight catches for 116 yards this season.
Las Vegas offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi said this week that the coaching staff was very impressed with Mayer’s performance against New England.
“Mike did a lot of things in the passing game and running game, like we discussed back in previous weeks. His role is growing, his production is growing, and I’ve seen a player who’s gained a little confidence from the production and feels himself kind of give some production in terms of statistics,” Lombardi said. “But like I told you guys before, I think he felt some production from his contribution in the running game and as a pass blocker and those type of things. And then now it’s kind of just translated into his production on the field in terms of statistics. But, again, none of those plays have changed or anything like that. It’s just the quarterback is doing a good job of going through some progressions and finding him, and then the coverage is dictating where the ball should go, and he’s found some production there. So, pleased with Michael’s progress. He still has a long way to go and he’s aware of that. But he’s a player, like I said, that gets better every week and so continuing to go on that journey has been fun.”
Lombardi said the rest of the offense is seeing what Mayer and third-round pick, wide receiver Tre Tucker, are doing and are getting more confidence in the rookie’s ability.
“Sure. And it’s funny, you saw the play to Tre Tucker last week in the game on third down where he caught the ball down the field – I think all those young guys who put a lot of work, all those older guys kind of they’re really happy for him because they see their hard work and production pay off, and not only does the production give you confidence but your fellow teammates belief in you and that affirmation of, ‘Hey, yeah, you can do this’, kind of gives you some confidence too,” Lombardi said. “Like Jakobi Myers was the first person to go get Tre Tucker after that big play, which is really cool to see because he saw it in preseason and in practice, and now he’s happy for him that the hard work is kind of paying off a little bit here and there. But I think all these guys would agree that production is great, but I think winning the game is probably the number one priority.”
That confidence should continue to grow as these youngsters get better throughout the season.