One of the more intriguing weapons at the disposal of Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels is rookie tight end Michael Mayer. Considered by many to be the most complete tight end in this draft class, Mayer is expected to grow into a key part of this offense.
That didn’t show itself much in the Raiders’ Week 1 contest against the Denver Broncos, however, as Mayer did not receive a single target in the 17-16 victory. Backup tight end Austin Hooper saw just one pass go his way, as well as receivers Davante Adams and Jakobi Meyers totaled 19 targets in the game.
But despite the lack of pass-catching opportunities, McDaniels still believes it was good for Mayer to experience the speed and feel of the pro game and thinks the Raiders rookie will be able to build off of this game.
“There’s a lot to, I’d say, learn from,” McDaniels said. “He didn’t have a bunch of opportunities in the passing game. Like I said, it was a very unique game in that regard, but saw different techniques. I think all of them got to feel the speed of the game, you know what I mean?
“Just changes, you can see it on film, and you can watch last year’s stuff, but then when you get into a regular season game as a rookie for the very first time, you just sense a different tempo. And so, I’m eager to see our guys kind of build off of some of the things that they learned and go into another hostile environment and see how they do.”
There are certainly always things to learn for a rookie in their first game, and Mayer will be able to study film with the coaches and pick up on things he can learn from. But it is also important to remember that with this offense, some games are just going to see certain players not see the ball much.
Just as Mayer didn’t receive a target, slot receiver and former Pro Bowler Hunter Renfrow also didn’t catch a pass in the season opener, as McDaniels’ offense takes what the defense gives them. In the case of the Broncos, it was about Adams and Meyers on the outside as opposed to Renfrow and Mayer in the middle of the field.
But next week against the Buffalo Bills provides a whole different game plan and opportunity for Mayer to make an impact.