Jerry Rice and Tim Brown continued to look as they could play forever while Jerry Porter emerged with a breakout year in his third NFL campaign.
At 40, Rice is an age where most players have long since been retired. Rice, however, caught 92 passes for 1,211 yards and seven touchdowns. The 36-year old Brown’s production dipped but with 81 catches, 930 yards and two touchdowns, everyone should have such struggles.
That decline, however, can be best explained by Porter’s emergence. Porter caught 51 balls for 688 yards and caught as many touchdowns (nine) as Rice and Brown combined. Porter should continue his development but would be hard pressed to increase his production unless Brown or Rice get hurt or retire. Both have indicated they plan to come back in 2003.
Backups Marcus Knight and Alvis Whitted were mostly special teams contributors. Knight did a solid job as a kickoff returner and has been eased into the Raider offense with the presence of veterans. James Jett was active for just one game – enough said.
At tight end, rookie Doug Jolley emerged as another of many weapons in the offense. Jolley’s blocking is still developing but if he can become adequate in that capacity that may be enough.
Roland Williams began the season as a blocker and was dependable in that area but sustained torn knee ligaments and a turf tow injury. By the end of the season, Jolley and Marcus Williams, who played mostly special teams, were the only healthy tight ends.
Vince D’Adamo can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org