While it was just the preseason, Las Vegas Raiders rookie wide receiver Tre Tucker got to show the world what he’s been working on during training camp in his NFL debut against the San Francisco 49ers.
Tucker was known as more of a speed demon in college at the University of Cincinnati, but he showed some nuance as a route-runner versus the 49ers as he was able to break free from coverage several times and drew three targets. The growth in this area of the former Bearcat’s game is something he attributes to his new teammates.
“I have a great room, obviously, as you guys know,” Tucker replied when asked about his progress during training camp. “They’ve helped me come along. So, thanks to those guys. I’m continuing to progress as fall camp goes, I don’t think it ever stops. So for me, just taking all the years that I have in my group, and just trying to apply it to myself just to try to be the best player I can be for myself and for the team.”
However, there was one dark cloud—or a couple of them depending on how you look at it—that rained on the rookie wideout’s first game as a pro; drops.
Of the three targets mentioned above, a couple slipped through his hands to account for two of quarterback Aidan O’Connell’s three incompletions. One came on a short route that hit both of Tucker’s mits before sailing over his head and hitting the ground. The other was a more difficult sideline grab that slipped through his arms and took an explosive play off the board after replay review.
But the rookie isn’t shying away from any blame as the drops were the first thing he brought up when asked about his debut.
“First NFL game. The drops, that’s on me,” Tucker said. “Obviously, I’ll get that corrected, work overtime. Great throws by our quarterback. Overall, I felt like I knew what I was doing. And like I said again, it just comes with the preparation. Coach is big on that, knowing what you’re doing, knowing your assignments. So, obviously we strive to be the best we can be, and that’s what I want to do.”
Completing catches is something that Tucker will continue to work on and was an issue for him last year at Cincinnati. According to Pro Football Focus, his six drops were tied for the 11th-most among American Athletic Conference (AAC) wide receivers, and his 10.2 percent drop rate was in the bottom 15.
The good news is he only let two passes slip through his hands at a 5.6 percent rate in 2021, Tucker’s other season as a significant wideout for the Bearcats, and the reviews surrounding him have primarily been positive so far in training camp.
“I mean, he’s explosive, he’s strong,” Raiders starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said on what he likes about Tucker. “I saw in the game [against San Francisco], that he’s got that dog in him. He’s willing to fight for that ball, and for a rookie to come in and have that, that’s pretty rare.
“But he’s nowhere near perfect, he’s got room to grow. And it’s just about when you’re a rookie, you’ve just got to keep going, man. You can’t ever think that you have it figured out at any point in your career, but especially as a rookie. You can’t relax, you’ve just got to keep going. It’s a long year, but he’s built the right way, and mentally, I think he’s ready for it.”
At this point in the season, every player has something to work on, especially rookies, so Tucker is no different than anyone else and the fact he’s shown growth in other areas of his games proves he’s willing to put the work in to get better.
Now, it’s just a matter of finishing plays and finishing the preseason on a high note as the third-round pick could have a big role in Las Vegas’ offense this year and for many years to come.