Andre Holmes spent the first four games on the NFL’s suspended list after testing positive for a performance enhancing substance. Now he could be the wild card for the Oakland Raiders’ receiving corps in their Week 12 game against the Tennessee Titans.
With wide receiver Denarius Moore missing a second straight day of practice with a shoulder injury, putting his status in doubt, Holmes will likely see increased playing time when the Raiders attempt to win back-to-back games for the first time this season.
Holmes has just one catch in four games this season. The 25-year-old wasn’t even added to Oakland’s 53-man roster until the team released quarterback Matt Flynn on Oct. 7, six days before the Raiders’ Week 6 game against Kansas City.
Yet he remains a tantalizing prospect because of his size alone. At 6’4” and 210 pounds, Holmes is the tallest, biggest wide receiver Oakland has. That height came in handy against the Texans when Holmes made a leaping 33-yard catch near the right sideline early in the second quarter.
It was just the third career reception for Holmes, who spent most of 2011 on the Dallas Cowboys’ practice squad before playing in seven games last year.
Given the dearth of talent the Raiders have at receiver, however, Holmes is probably one of the best options head coach Dennis Allen has if Moore can’t play.
“He’s a big target,” Allen said Thursday when asked about Holmes. “He runs pretty well, can get down the field and make some plays down the field. Listen, he’s a solid player for us. I think we’ve got several quality wide receivers. All those guys have been a factor for us and they need to continue to be a factor for us.”
The problem is that with the exception of Moore and Rod Streater, no other wide receiver has stepped up.
Moore leads the Raiders in catches, receiving yardage and touchdowns. He’s averaging 56.9 yards a game, which would have given him an outside shot at becoming the first Oakland receiver to have a 1,000-yard season since Randy Moss did it in 2005.
If Moore sits out against the Titans, it could make things much more difficult on rookie quarterback Matt McGloin. Tennessee is 10th in total defense and seventh against the pass, allowing fewer than 214 yards a game through the air.
McGloin passed for just 197 yards against Houston in his first NFL start but threw three touchdowns without an interception. That earned the undrafted rookie from Penn State a second start while Terrelle Pryor continues to recover from a knee injury that kept him out of the Texans game.
No matter who Oakland’s quarterback is, the Raiders need much more production out of the wide receivers.
Moore and Streater have combined for 72 catches, 1,076 yards and seven touchdowns. Beyond that, the pickings are slim.
Seventh-round pick Brice Butler had an encouraging start to his rookie season when he caught at least one pass in his first six games. He had a rough game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, however, when he made a pair of critical jobs that landed him the coaching staff’s doghouse.
Jacoby Ford was initially expected to fill the No. 3 receiver spot on Oakland’s depth chart, but he’s been mostly a disappointment while splitting time on special teams. He has just 10 catches this season and has been on the field for fewer than 14 plays offensively in two of the team’s past four games.
That’s why Holmes could be the guy.
“Several guys need to step up,” Allen said. “That will give Brice Butler another opportunity. Andre Holmes will be a guy that will be able to step in there, Jacoby Ford. Those guys will have to step up for us in the passing game.
“Denarius has been really our leading receiver, so it’ll have an effect," he said. "But it’s just like everything else we’ve had to deal with as far as injuries are concerned. Next man up. Somebody’s going to have to come out and perform. Those guys will be ready.”
* Any information and quotes used in this and all stories by Michael Wagaman were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.