ESPN Tabs Raiders’ Hunter Renfrow for ‘Bounce Back’ Despite Dreadful Week 1

Hunter Renfrow, Raiders wide receiver

Getty Hunter Renfrow, Raiders wide receiver

Judging by Week 1, the Year of the Hunter Renfrow Comeback might have already fizzled out. But give credit to ESPN: They’re sticking with the notion that big numbers are just around the corner for Renfrow, choosing him as the Raidersbounce-back player of the year for 2023.

One of the odd twists of the Raiders’ Week 1 17-16 win over the Broncos was the stat line of Renfrow, and not just because he did not make a catch in the game. The odd thing, of course, was that he was not even targeted once, and played only 13 snaps (tied for fewest in his career).

That showing in the opener came after last year’s injury-marred season in which Renfrow missed seven games and did not produce much in the 10 games he did play—36 catches and 330 yards. Renfrow had been a Pro Bowler under coach Jon Gruden the previous season, with 103 catches and 1,038 yards, but didn’t seem to mesh in new coach Josh McDaniels’ offense.

Be patient, though, says ESPN reporter Paul Gutierrez, as he wrote:

“Coach Josh McDaniels has said Renfrow will be a big part of the Raiders’ plans moving forward, but is not getting targeted a single time and playing a career-tying-low 13 snaps in the opener at Denver a harbinger, or just a jumping-off point for bigger and better things? With No. 2 WR Jakobi Meyers in the NFL’s concussion protocol, expect the latter.”

Week 2 a Big Opportunity for Renfrow

Indeed, if there is a jumping-off point for Renfrow, it had better come now, with Meyers unlikely to play in Week 2 as he remains in the NFL’s concussion protocol going back to a hit he took from the Broncos’ Kareem Jackson late in Week 1.

The Raiders will still have star wideout Davante Adams as they go to Buffalo for Week 2, but they’re thin behind Adams and Meyers, who accounted for 15 of the Raiders’ 20 receptions in Denver. Running back Josh Jacobs had two catches, tight end Austin Hooper had one, and receivers DeAndre Carter and Zamir White had one each, too.

This would be a good time for Renfrow to make his return to Raiders prominence. McDaniels, for one, seemed to think that Renfrow’s stat line in Week 1 was an anomaly.

“I think that’s just the way it goes,” he said when meeting with the media on Monday. “I mean, there are games where certain things happen and the ball gets targeted to different guys differently. And we’re trying to tell our quarterback to read the defense and then try to go to the best spot with the ball as opposed to read the defense and go to one guy with the ball. And so, some games that might mean the player in the slot gets 10 or 12 targets and games it might mean two or three.”

Renfrow: ‘My Goal Is to Be Ready’

Renfrow has taken the tough times in stride, and maybe now with Meyers out, he’ll see more action. The Raiders did play a lot of two tight-end sets in the first week, but even if they do that in Week 2, they’ll likely have no choice but to send the ball Renfrow’s way more often.

Renfrow said he’ll be ready to pitch in no matter what.

“I think the main thing is to win, right?” he said after practice this week. “That’s the main objective, that’s what you try to do, that’s why you play the game. Is to win. For me, I’ve always gone by two things, am I being a good teammate, and I feel like I was on Sunday. And did I help the team win? Sometimes, not getting the ball and not getting throw at, you can still help the team win. I feel like I did that. … My goal is to be ready when my number is called, but also to help my teammates.”

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