Oakland Raiders wide receiver Rod Streater spent much of the offseason developing a close connection with quarterback Terrelle Pryor, so it was no surprise to see the two teammates get off to a fast start during last week’s season-opening loss in Indianapolis.
Then again, nothing Streater does these days is much of a surprise anymore.
Since entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent last season, the 6’3’’, 200-pound Streater has been steadily rising up the Oakland depth chart. He started two games as a rookie and was in the lineup again last week against the Colts, tying Denarius Moore for the team lead with five catches.
It wasn’t just the numbers that made Streater stand out.
The second-year pro has a knack for getting open when plays break down, something Pryor discovered firsthand in the loss to Indianapolis.
In the first half Pryor, scrambled to his right looking for an open man. Streater, lined up on the right side, took off downfield and cut toward the sideline on an out pattern, but he quickly altered his route after seeing Pryor flushed out of the pocket. Streater sprinted about five more yards upfield then quickly reversed direction and worked back toward Pryor, who found his favorite target for an 18-yard completion.
Then, in the fourth quarter, Streater had to improvise again after the pass protection for Pryor broke down. He ran a button hook on the left side but had to change his pattern as Pryor tried to buy time. When the quarterback turned back to the left side and then ran again toward the right, Streater followed suit until Pryor hit him with a 17-yard completion down to the 2-yard line.
“He’s real good at just following and being able to move with me,” Pryor said. “Instead of just standing still, he moves up and down (the field).”
That’s a big key because the Raiders' offensive line had some protection issues in Week 1. Pryor set a franchise record for rushing yards by a quarterback, though the majority of those yards came on broken pass plays on which Pryor trying to avoid a sack.
Streater, who caught 39 passes as a rookie in 2012, says the connection between the two players on the field is directly related to the time they spent working out together in the offseason.
“It’s just being around him, working out in the offseason,” Streater told the The Sacramento Bee. “It’s just a natural thing. We kind of understand each other. I kind of have a thing, I understand where to go and when he’s going to scramble, things like that.”
That chemistry with a Raider quarterback is something that has escaped Moore so far in his career. If the pattern breaks down or the quarterback is forced to scramble on a particular play, Moore tends to move around some but doesn’t put in nearly as much work to get open as Streater does.
Streater and the rest of Oakland’s wide receivers should have plenty of opportunities to get open against Jacksonville on Sunday. The Jaguars allowed wide receivers to catch 10 passes for 87 yards and two touchdowns in their opening loss to Kansas City last week. Many of those completions were on the type of quick slant patterns Pryor was so effective in executing against the Colts.
When Pryor did go deep, it was often with Streater in mind. Both of Pryor’s interceptions came on heaves intended for Streater.
Expect things to be similar this week.
The Jaguars will stack the box in hopes of containing running back Darren McFadden, essentially daring the Raiders to throw. That should leave Streater and Moore in one-on-one matchups, which they should be able to exploit.
As reported by raiders.com, Raiders head coach Dennis Allen noted the young receiver's development during his weekly press conference heading into Week 2:
I’ve seen a lot of improvement out of Rod and I expect even more out of Rod Streater because I think he has the ability to be a very good player in this league...As I am with a lot of these young guys, Rod Streater is only in his second year, so I’m looking for a lot of development out of a lot of these young guys.
All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.