Raiders WR Isaac Whitney gets chance with depleted corps of receivers

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ALAMEDA Isaac Whitney may end up being an afterthought when the Raiders face the New York Giants Sunday, but least hell be an afterthought wearing a uniform.

To a practice squad player, that counts as progress.

The Raiders will play without Michael Crabtree, serving a one-game suspension, and fellow wide out Amari Cooper is expected to be ruled out Friday because of a concussion and an ankle injury. That leaves Seth Roberts, Cordarrelle Patterson and Johnny Holton as healthy wide receivers, with Whitney joining the roster for his first NFL game.


The expectation is for Whitney to get work as a gunner on kickoff coverage, with the possibility of getting in a few snaps on offense, a role that would increase of course if any of the top three are injured.

Whitney is a patient man. He hasnt been a featured receiver since 2014 at Riverside Community College when he caught 49 passes for 809 yards and four touchdowns. He missed nine games as a junior at USC with a broken collarbone, and as a senior played sparingly on a deep receiving corps that included JuJu Smith-Schuster, Darreus Rogers and Deontay Burnett.

Besides prototype size (6-foot-2, 204 pounds), Whitney is fast enough to have spent time on the USC track team. The Raiders liked what they saw at the USC Pro Day and offered him a contract as an undrafted free agent.

His preseason with the Raiders three catches for 22 yards didnt turn any heads, but Whitneys work on the practice field made coaches take notice. He signed with the practice squad after the final cutdown and has been there ever since, measuring his progress on film.

Throughout the first 12 weeks, going against the (first team), its competition every day, Whitney said. Youre going against the ones. Thats making me better. Its taught me how to compete on every play. So once youre moved up, youre used to it.

Whitney said he looks at training camp film and can see how far hes come as a player, and coach Jack Del Rio has noticed it as well.

He’s taken advantage of the reps and improved his play as we’ve gone throughout the year, Del Rio said. I know he’s excited about having the opportunity to go out and play. We’re likely to have him up and let him participate. I’m looking forward to watching him."

A big difference this week has been getting more work with starting quarterback Derek Carr rather than working on the scout team against EJ Manuel or Connor Cook.

There was a play today where I kind of slowed down, but (Derek) took me aside, we worked on it right away and corrected it, Whitney said.

Cornerback David Amerson has liked what hes seen of Whitney in practice.

Hes solid. Hes got good hands. Havent really seen him drop a lot of balls, Amerson said.Hes a longer guy who gets in and out of his cuts. I think hell do fine.

Said cornerback TJ Carrie: I think hes still finding himself. Theres a lot of learning that goes on and everybody is different. Hes done a good job adjusting to it. Its always good to get work against the first team defense and hes made some plays against us.

Offensive coordinator Todd Downing said the Raiders offense wont change much in terms without Crabtree out and Cooper unlikely to play.

You dont anticipate it drastically changing how we do things, Downing said. Maybe just little tweaks in formations or personnel groupings.

Regardless of how much Whitney plays, its a nice bump in pay, even if its only for a week when Crabtree returns on Dec. 10 against Kansas City. His weekly practice squad pay was just over $7,000, while the NFL veteran minimum for those on the 53-man roster is a weekly salary of more than $27,300.

While thats a nice bonus, Whitney is more eager to step on to the field as an NFL player for the first time in a regular season game.

Im sure its going to probably feel surreal for a moment, but after a couple of plays it will feel normal, Whitney said. I dont let it overwhelm me, just try and do my job and play fast.

Running back Marshawn Lynch sat out practice with a rest day, something that;s likely to continue in future weeks as his workload increases. Amerson (foot), linebacker Cory James (ankle), guard Gabe Jackson (ankle) and Patterson (hip) were limited in practice.

Jackson was the subject of a letter from the NFL Referees Association to commissioner Roger Goodell since the Raiders guard was not suspended for coming in to contact with an official in the brawl which got Crabtree and Denvers Aqib Talib one-game suspensions, according to MMQBs Albert Breer.

According to the letter, the official that came into contact with Jackson went to the doctor Monday for bruised ribs and shortness of breath.

Jackson will likely be hit with a fine in excess of $30,000.

How much did defensive coordinator John Pagano enjoy seeing the Raiders NaVorro Bowman get the clubs first interception of the season?

It was like the Holy Grail they brought walking over, Pagano said It was outstanding. I wanted to put that ball on a pedestal.