Many eyes are on the Las Vegas Raiders‘ wide receiver corps as the team has been linked to big names like DeSean Jackson and Odell Beckham Jr. in recent days. The team has openings at the position due to the release of Henry Ruggs came after his involvement in a fatal car crash that led to his arrest on a DUI charge. He was the team’s No. 1 wide receiver and now they’re left to figure out what to do next.
In the meantime, the Raiders are bringing in some reinforcements as they continue to assess the situation. The team announced that they’ve signed rookie wide receiver Dillon Stoner to the active roster.
Stoner has spent the first portion of the season on the practice squad after signing as an undrafted free agent out of Oklahoma State in the offseason. The Raiders have been high on him after he impressed in training camp. The team’s wide receivers have been healthy this season so he hasn’t had a chance to get on the field. Barring any changes, he should be making his NFL debut against the New York Giants on Sunday.
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Raiders Could Hold off on Making Other WR Moves
Prior to Ruggs getting released, the Raiders also released wide receiver Willie Snead. Stoner is more of a logical replacement for Snead as they both do their best work in the slot. Interim head coach Rich Bisaccia said on Wednesday that they’d likely stick with Stoner and possibly practice squad wide receiver Javon Wims for this week’s game against the Giants. However, neither are long-term solutions.
Stoner and Wims can’t replace the speed that Ruggs brought to the team. No wide receiver currently on the Raiders roster can. The aforementioned Jackson and Beckham can both stretch the field. The team should give those two a look, if available.
Derek Carr Expects Zay Jones to Step Up
Unfortunately for the Raiders, there won’t be a perfect replacement for Ruggs. Bryan Edward and Hunter Renfrow have already been heavily involved in the passing game and that won’t change. Zay Jones is the most likely candidate to see some of the targets that went Ruggs’ way. Quarterback Derek Carr is confident in Jones’ ability.
“I’ve always thought the world of Isaiah,” Carr told reporters Wednesday. “A common theme of when I’ve talked about Zay is how hard he works. You guys have seen it in training camp and the relentlessness he practices with, and it’s literally every day. He’s the hardest-practicing person I’ve ever seen in my life. And I am excited for him.
“Now, he has a very big role. Roles change in the NFL quickly. … It’s got to be like nothing ever happened. When Darren Waller goes out and he says, ‘I can’t play,’ well, Foster Moreau has to step up and be the starting tight end and he has a big day. It wasn’t just because it just happened; it was because he’s prepared for that moment. And I think Zay and all these guys have prepared for this moment.”
Jones has made some big plays this year, including a game-winning touchdown catch against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 1. He also has a great rapport with Carr. The Raiders appear comfortable with relying on him until they get the position sorted out.