From almost the moment they signed him away from the Green Bay Packers, it’s been assumed that WR James Jones would be starting for the Oakland Raiders. He’s a savvy veteran who’s been steady and productive throughout his career – just the sort of reliable presence the Raiders need to help groom their stable of young, talented, but highly inconsistent receivers.
And ultimately, that’s the way it all may end up shaking out. But Andre Holmes is doing everything in his power to make setting the final depth chart a very difficult decision for HC Dennis Allen.
The 6-foot-4, 210-pound fourth-year receiver out of Hillsdale College had a rough first year with the Silver and Black. Suspended for the first four games of the 2013 season, Holmes didn’t see the field much after returning, and didn’t record his first catch until their Week 10 matchup with the Houston Texans. His one catch went for 33 yards in the Raiders’ 28-23 win.
Over the final six weeks of the season though, Holmes amassed 24 more receptions for 398 yards and a touchdown. He established himself as an increasingly steady and reliable target in an otherwise turbulent season for the Raiders.
He’s come into this offseason with the intention of moving up the depth chart and making himself an invaluable part of Oakland’s offense. He’s making plays that are turning the heads of the coaching staff, and as he’s been the most consistent downfield threat they have this offseason, Holmes is already developing a strong rapport with QB Matt Schaub, who recently spoke positively about his new receiver.
Because of his time with Houston and a guy named Andre Johnson, Schaub has developed a real fondness for big, physical, playmaking receivers. So it’s not entirely surprising that’s taken a bit of a shine to Holmes. Schaub and the Raiders are hoping that Holmes can play to that stature and continue building on the rock-solid offseason he’s been having, and it appears that they’re going to give him every opportunity to do so.
Though they’re worth about as much as the paper they’re printed on, Oakland released their first depth chart ahead of their preseason skirmish with the Minnesota Vikings; Holmes, along with Rod Streater, are listed as the first unit, with Jones sliding down to run with the second team.
Holmes would give them a big, physical, deep threat — something the Oakland offense has lacked for a good, long while. He gives Schaub a somewhat familiar, comfortable target to throw to. For his part, Holmes is taking nothing for granted and continues to play like he wants to stay on the first team.
Whether or not Holmes remains with the first unit ahead of Jones remains to be seen, but regardless of where he falls on the depth chart, he will see significant action this season. Based what we saw at the tail end of 2013 and through this year’s offseason work, the Raiders’ offense will be better for it.