For a guy who went into the 2013 season with just two career catches, Oakland wide receiver Andre Holmes sure played like a guy who's been around the block a few times. While the Raiders fell short in their Thanksgiving Day game with the Dallas Cowboys, Holmes gave a glimpse of the player he could be and might have also offered a solution to the team's search for a No. 1 receiver.
Holmes made a career-high seven receptions for 136 yards, many of them coming on acrobatic leaping or diving receptions that helped sustain drives and bailed out undrafted rookie quarterback Matt McGloin.
That was critical because the Raiders’ wide receiving corps was shorthanded. Denarius Moore, who has been the team’s leading receiver most of the season, missed his second consecutive game with a shoulder injury.
A week ago, no Moore meant very little passing game. McGloin was relegated to relying on Rod Streater and tight end Mychal Rivera.
Moore was out again, but Rivera returned from his concussion to make a pair of big catches.
It was Holmes, however, who made the biggest impact.
Suspended by the NFL for the first four games of the season after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs, Holmes made an outstanding catch over Dallas cornerback Brandon Carr to help set up a second-quarter touchdown. Holmes had to turn around while in the air to make the reception while Carr, a top-tier defender in the NFL, was in his face.
Later in the same drive Holmes had to adjust to a ball thrown from McGloin and nearly turned it into a touchdown. The play, coming on 2nd-and-goal from the 16, paired Holmes up in single coverage with a defensive back, but McGloin’s throw was more inside than Holmes initially was.
Holmes, who made an acrobatic leaping catch against Houston in Week 11, made a great adjustment to get inside of the defensive back and was initially credited with a touchdown until replays showed he was down at the 1.
Holmes later added a sliding 11-yard catch on a 3rd-and-8 play that helped set up Oakland’s third touchdown.
In all, McGloin threw 11 passes in Holmes’ direction. That’s two more than he threw to Rod Streater and Jacoby Ford combined.
It could be the springboard Holmes and the Raiders have been looking for.
Holmes spent two mostly ineffective years in Dallas before signing with Oakland. He’s the team’s biggest and strongest receiver, which is critical for a smallish quarterback like McGloin, and he’s got pretty steady hands, which is something Moore has struggled with.
It might have taken him a while to get going, and it’s still just a small sampling of his work, but at the current rate he’s playing, Holmes could make a legitimate argument to be Oakland’s No. 1 receiver heading into 2014.
Any information and quotes used in this and any report by Michael Wagaman were obtained firsthand.