The Raiders just wrapped up their preseason slate on Saturday with a 31-16 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Vegas used the game to get many of their rookies a lot of action, hoping to see positive development from players aiming to secure a roster spot. One such rookie on display was the team’s most recent second-round pick, Michael Mayer.
The Notre Dame product was targeted twice and caught both attempts for a respectable 20 yards. There was plenty to like from Mayer in Saturday’s game and very little to be concerned about. With the excitement running rampant across Raider Nation, let’s dive in for a closer look at the rookie’s performance.
Positives For Michael Mayer
Mayer took a much-needed big step this week vs. the Cowboys. He played a lot more and was more involved in the offense, from a pass-catching standpoint, and in the running game. Also, he received targets a little further down the field than we are accustomed to seeing.
Mayer caught a thirteen-yard comeback, demonstrating the solid route running that littered his collegiate tape. On top of that, he looked strong on the play, shielding the defender from the ball with his picturesque frame at tight end. This was a pleasant surprise, as we didn’t see that last week vs. the Rams.
The most intriguing thing about Mayer’s performance was how the Raiders deployed him. Vegas moved him around the formation frequently, always trying to keep the opposing defense guessing. It was very reminiscent of Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. The ’87’ on his jersey and the similar build don’t hurt the comparison, either.
After years of being tortured by Kelce, the prospect of having their own version should have Raider Nation very excited. There were a lot more positives from this outing than negatives.
Negatives From Raiders Week 3 Loss (Preseason)
This section will be fairly short. There are only two things from Saturday that cause concern for Mayer. The first is that he played a considerable amount, while Austin Hooper did not play at all. That could mean there is a gap between the two and that Mayer is not really in competition to be the team’s starting tight end; at least, not yet. However, it could also just mean that the rookie needs more reps.
It is more likely that Mayer needs more NFL playing time before coaches give him the keys to the TE1 car. While he has shown potential, you can still tell he is a rookie, given his lack of polish on certain reps. There are times when it is clear that he is adjusting to NFL speed. That is about as close to a negative as you’ll get from what was otherwise a great night.
Overall Grade For Michael Mayer’s Preseason Finale
The performance vs. Dallas was almost exactly what you would want to see from any rookie. Mayer got a lot of game reps, looked good, and didn’t get hurt. In a preseason finale where most starters aren’t playing, you can’t ask for much more than that. Now, let’s see what he can do in the regular season.
*Top Photo: Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports