One unit the Las Vegas Raiders needed to improve this past offseason was his wide receiver corps. They did precisely that when they selected Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards in this year’s draft. After an unusual offseason, it seems likely both of them will start for the Silver and Black in Week 1. However, neither of them seems fazed by the feature.
The Raiders are no strangers to starting WR rookies in Week 1
The last time the Raiders started two rookie wide receivers in Week 1 was in 2019. Then, they had Louis Murphy and Darrius Heyward-Bey take the field. Murphy did well in his debut as he finished the game with four catches for 87 yards and one touchdown. Heyward-Bey didn’t fare so well and ended the game with no catches on four targets.
This time, things could be different. Although Heyward-Bey was drafted in the first round just like Ruggs, his selection seemed like a reach at the time. In his four years with the Raiders, the Maryland product caught 140 passes for 2,071 yards and 11 touchdowns. On the other hand, Murphy ended his three-year tenure with the Silver and Black with 90 catches for 1,271 yards and six touchdowns. Neither of them went on to have a spectacular NFL career, but things seem to be different for Ruggs and Edwards.
Although Ruggs nor Edwards have played a snap in the NFL, they have received plenty of positive attention in training camp. It’s true it isn’t the same to practice in shorts than against opposing defenders. However, there is a point where the hype turns out to be true and we have to just accept it. That seems to be the case with the Raiders rookie wide receivers.
The stage doesn’t seem too big for Ruggs nor Henry
The last person to get in the Ruggs/Edwards bandwagon was Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson. Via the team’s official website, Olson said that the duo has adjusted well to the pro game. One of the reasons for that, is the college they played at. Ruggs played at Alabama while Edwards did the same at South Carolina. The Raiders offensive coordinator also made a point to credit their college coaches for helping prepare them.
The game hasn’t been too big for them, credit to their college coaches and the college programs they came from. They’ve played in front of big crowds, and they’re not going to be playing in front of a big crowd this season, but I think their coaches prepared them pretty well in college for the next level, and we’re fortunate that way. We haven’t had to hold back at all with those two guys.
As good as Ruggs and Edwards have been, we also have to manage our expectations. It’s true that they are talented but so is pretty much every defensive player they will face in the NFL. Even though it would bode well for the Raiders if either or both of them finished the game against the Panthers with more than 100 receiving yards, it is unlikely.
The Raiders surely have plans for Ruggs and Edwards and both have the tools to thrive in the NFL. Nevertheless, they don’t have to put 20 points on the board by themselves, at least not yet. They have one whole season to develop and become key contributors for the Raiders for years to come.
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Top Photo: Richard Shiro/Associated Press