Raiders' route to aerial success might involve Streater

Published: Thursday, Sep. 12, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Thursday, Sep. 12, 2013 - 5:27 pm

ALAMEDA – If wide receiver Rod Streater spent much of 2012 under the radar, first as an undrafted free agent in camp, then as a rookie climbing up the Raiders' depth chart, it seems this season he's already registering a louder blip.

"It appears that he's a go-to guy for them, to where (quarterback Terrelle Pryor) will look for him," Jacksonville Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said Wednesday on a conference call about Sunday's game at O.co Coliseum. "We know (Pryor has) other receivers as well, but (Streater is) a guy that seems to be targeted quite a bit."

In Week 1 against Indianapolis, Streater was targeted a team-high eight times and led the Raiders with 70 yards on five catches. He had five catches only once in a game his rookie season, during which he caught 39 passes for 584 yards and three touchdowns.

The 39 catches were the fourth-most by a rookie in franchise history and tied for the third-most by an undrafted NFL player since 2002 – all part of an unexpected debut for a player who caught just 19 passes his senior year in a run-heavy offense at Temple.

Pryor, making his own debut Sunday as the Raiders' starting quarterback, threw to Streater on his first two attempts – as well as on his two interceptions – and found Streater multiple times when scrambling to avoid pressure.

Asked if he considers Streater a "go-to receiver," Pryor said Wednesday: "I wouldn't call him a go-to guy, I just thought he had a spectacular game. It almost comes to every time we get on the field, he reacts to wherever I'm going. So I can see what you're saying.

"I think he just has a knack for the ball and wanting the ball. Not that the other guys don't, but I think he's real good at just following and knowing to move with me instead of staying still or going up and down."

Quarterbacks and receivers practice the "scramble drill" – adjusting when a quarterback is flushed from the pocket – and a mobile quarterback like Pryor can take that to another level.

As Pryor showed Sunday with his 112 rushing yards – many on designed pass plays when he tucked the ball and ran – he's willing and able to extend plays with his feet. For his receivers, it means more time after the original play breaks down to observe where Pryor is going and angle that way while trying to find open space in the defense.

Pryor and Streater worked on their timing during the offseason at nearby Laney College and in Los Angeles, along with several other Raiders receivers, but Streater acknowledged that work only goes so far when the quarterback begins to improvise.

"We try to replicate it at practice, but you really can't. It's just a natural thing," Streater said. "You've just got to go out there and feel it kind of, just find an open spot and get open pretty much.

"We kind of understand each other. I kind of have a thing, understand kind of where to go and when he's going to scramble, things like that."

One of the pivotal plays for the Raiders in Indianapolis came on third and 10 from the Colts' 19-yard line early in the fourth quarter. Pryor took a shotgun snap, saw nothing open downfield, spun away from pressure to his left and then ran back across the hash marks to his right before delivering a jump-throw to Streater for a 17-yard gain.

The play, which took 11 seconds from Pryor taking the snap to making the throw, set up Pryor's 5-yard touchdown pass to Denarius Moore, which put the Raiders ahead 17-14 before the Colts retook the lead for good on Andrew Luck's touchdown run.

Raiders coach Dennis Allen agreed Wednesday that "there's a little bit of comfortableness" between Pryor and Streater. Asked where that comes from, Streater smiled and shrugged. "I don't know. It's just being around him, working out in the offseason, I think.

"When he runs that way, go with him and get open."

Injury report – Tight end David Ausberry (shoulder), safety Tyvon Branch (shoulder), kicker Sebastian Janikowski (right calf) and tackle Menelik Watson (knee) did not practice Wednesday.

Allen said Janikowski was held out as a precaution. With Watson still out, the Raiders practiced with the same first-team offensive line they used against the Colts – Khalif Barnes at left tackle and Tony Pashos at right tackle.

Call The Bee's Matt Kawahara, (916) 321-1015.

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