Originally published by RaidersNewswire.com
The Las Vegas Raiders improved to 2-0 under interim coach Antonio Pierce with a 16-12 win on Sunday night over the New York Jets. Down early, the Raiders would fight back to tie the game, but early in the fourth, they finally provided the lone touchdown of the game with Aidan O’Connell finding fellow rookie Michael Mayer who leaped over Jets safety Jordan Whitehead to haul in his first career touchdown catch.
It was a play that showed off why the Raiders believe the tight end is so special. While he hasn’t necessarily put up amazing numbers so far this season, Mayer has regularly been praised by Raiders teammates and coaches for his abilities, and O’Connell had nothing but positives to heap on him and others about that play.
“Yeah, I think pretty early on Michael has shown us that he’s a special player, even rookie minicamp I remember him just being the super tough guy,” O’Connell said after the Raiders’ win. “I remember him having blisters all over his feet and his socks were full of blood. I think we knew as an offense and as a team we had a really good, young player there.
“He did an awesome job making an awesome play. I kind of just threw it up and let him be a football player and he made an awesome play. It was great protection again by the offensive line too. I held onto the ball there even still a little bit too long, and so kudos to the guys around me for making plays.”
With a rookie quarterback like O’Connell, the key is not forcing him to do too much. But in order for that to happen, those around him have to step up and make life easy. Thankfully the Raiders have plenty of playmakers, such as Davante Adams, Josh Jacobs and Jakobi Meyers. Clearly, Michael Mayer needs to be included in that conversation as well.
Coming into the draft, Mayer was considered by many to be the most complete all-around tight end but perhaps was lacking in overall explosiveness. Perhaps that is why he fell out of the first round altogether, to the surprise of many. Plays like this, however, prove that completely wrong.
But the Raiders are certainly happy with the outcome, and if he can continue to step up and make big plays when called upon, O’Connell and the rest of the team will benefit greatly as things continue to turn around in Vegas.
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