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Raiders coaches see Michael Mayer making strides

Rookie tight end came up with big play in Week 3

Pittsburgh Steelers v Las Vegas Raiders
Michael Mayer
Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images

There is no denying that Las Vegas Raiders rookie tight end Michael Mayer has had a slow start to his NFL career.

Yet, in Week 3, we did get a glimpse of how Mayer can help the team. He caught a critical two-point conversion to make it a one-score game late in an eventual 23-18 home loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The second-round pick from Notre Dame has one catch this season. The two-point conversion doesn’t count on the stat sheet, though.

It takes time for tight ends to adjust to the NFL, plus the Raiders just aren’t using their tight ends much. Mayer and veteran Austin Hooper have combined for four receptions. Through three games last season, former Las Vegas tight ends Darren Waller and Foster Moreau had a combined 19 catches.

Mayer has looked decent in his routes. The targets should start to increase. The Raiders, who traded up to draft Mayer, are pleased with his development and are excited that perhaps his score can be a jumping off point for further success,

“Michael obviously made a big play there at the end of the game with the two-point conversion and did the detail right on the play and sprung him open. He did a lot in the game this past week too,” Las Vegas offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi said this week. “It was a lot of stuff in the running game and blocking and jam protections, and all those plays are big. He’s seen a lot of play time and other production. In terms of receptions, hasn’t been there when you guys look at the stat sheet, but there’s a lot of things he did well. A lot of things he can improve on like any young player, whether it’s in the run fit, angles in the run game, moving his feet, sustaining the block, getting the right jam on the jam protections, all those types of things. So, he saw a lot of play time. He’s improved week to week and we’ll look forward to this week coming forward.”

A challenge for young rookie tight ends coming into the league is learning how to block against NFL defenders. The Raiders see Mayer coming along in that area as well.

“I think all the tight end room has been asked to do a lot of things in the running game these past few weeks and it’s grown since week one,” Lombardi said. “So, they definitely have had more playtime exposure to some things and with Michael especially being a young player. He definitely has a lot to improve on, but definitely a lot that he’s taken on and improved on already. So, looking forward to that moving forward.”

It’s all about moving forward and the future for a talent like Mayer.