Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press

Brandon Myers, falling over Kansas City defender Brandon Flowers on Dec. 16, was a sixth-round draft pick by the Raiders in 2009.

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Myers' numbers put him among elite at tight end

Published: Friday, Dec. 28, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012 - 11:50 am

ALAMEDA – Brandon Myers has an exquisite sense of timing.

Quarterback Carson Palmer realized it immediately, identifying Myers as his most reliable receiver, particularly in the fourth quarter, when the Raiders were trying to scramble back into a game.

Myers' timing is impeccable in a business sense as well.

On a team where few veterans can be said to be having a "career" year, Myers has come out of nowhere to be one of the NFL's most productive tight ends, just as his first contract is expiring.

Myers, 6-foot-3 and 256 pounds, is confident in his ability but concedes he didn't envision going into the final game of the season with 75 receptions for 753 yards.

"It happened at a good time," Myers said.

With two receptions against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday, Myers will have caught the most passes by a Raiders receiver since Jerry Rice had 92 receptions in 2002, surpassing Jerry Porter, who had 76 receptions in 2005.

Myers has the longest ongoing streak of games with a reception on the Raiders with 16, and the only Oakland tight end with more receptions in a season is Todd Christensen, who had four seasons of 80 or more catches.

On Dec. 2, Myers tied Tim Brown's club record for receptions in a game with 14 against the Cleveland Browns.

Myers is fourth in the NFL in receptions among tight ends, trailing only the Cowboys' Jason Witten (103), the Falcons' Tony Gonzalez (88) and the Saints' Jimmy Graham (76).

Only Detroit wide receiver Calvin Johnson, with 36 receptions in the fourth quarter, has more than Myers' 34.

Not bad for a player who was the Raiders' final pick of the 2009 draft out of Iowa. He was the second of two sixth-round selections, No. 202 overall. The first pick of the sixth round, defensive end Stryker Sulak of Missouri, was cut before he reached training camp.

"I think I've proved what I've known all along but just haven't been given the opportunity to showcase what I can do," Myers said. "I guess you could say I showed what I can do. Even though we weren't winning a lot of games, when I was given the opportunity, I made the most of it."

The personal success has been bittersweet in that the Raiders go into their final game with a 4-11 record.

"It's tough when you're not winning games," Myers said. "It's hard to find positives in things. I guess the way I performed could be a positive, but it really doesn't do much when you're not winning."

Following his 14-catch game against Cleveland, Myers has drawn extra attention from opposing defenses. He has just six catches for 32 yards in his past three games.

"Defensive ends who are normally just going up the field are trying to shoulder chip him or reroute him so the timing gets disrupted," offensive coordinator Greg Knapp said. "He's had to contend with a lot of that on the line of scrimmage, so we'll try to get him on the move, shift him so they can't always have him in the same spot before the snap."

In part because of his instant connection with Palmer, Myers moved to the forefront of a three-way battle with David Ausberry and Richard Gordon and has played 971 snaps – the most of any Raiders skill position player.

Myers has heard the criticism from sites such as ProfootballFocus.com and FootballOutsiders.com, which downgrade his run blocking, but he figures he must be doing something right to be on the field as much as he is.

There also has been positive feedback from teammates and opposing players and coaches.

"That's kind of way I play the game, to earn the respect of your peers," Myers said. "If you have that, you're doing something right."

Et cetera – With Palmer sidelined for the season finale because of cracked ribs and a bruised lung, Matt Leinart and third-stringer Terrelle Pryor have been sharing time at practice.

Raiders coach Dennis Allen said he won't pick a starter until after today's practice.

• Defensive tackle Richard Seymour was placed on injured reserve because of a hamstring injury. Seymour missed the past seven games and is eligible for free agency in the offseason.

• Guard Mike Brisiel passed the concussion protocol but is still sidelined by an ankle injury that could give rookie Tony Bergstrom a chance to start.

• Defensive backs Tyvon Branch (neck, ankle) and Phillip Adams (groin) and running back Mike Goodson (illness) did not practice Thursday.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Jerry McDonald



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