Raiders receiver Zay Jones ready for bigger role
ALAMEDA — Zay Jones isn’t the demanding type, but promises to be ready if Derek Carr looks his way.
Jones has 11 receptions for 88 yards. Since coming aboard by trade from the Buffalo Bills, Jones has played 226 snaps in five games and Carr has thrown in his direction 14 times. In a 34-3 loss to the New York Jets, Jones played 52 snaps and caught both passes thrown his way for five yards.
“I feel very comfortable,” Jones said. “I can’t control targets, though. I feel like I’ve been doing my job, getting good separation, getting open. That stuff will come.”
With the wide receiver position a state of flux all season, Jones’ role could increase Sunday when the Raiders (6-5) visit the AFC West-leading Kansas City Chiefs (7-4) at Arrowhead Stadium. On Sunday, slot receiver Hunter Renfrow sustained a cracked rib and punctured lung. He’ll miss the Kansas City game and likely two more.
“With him out, it definitely opens the door for other guys to get more catches,” Carr said.
Offensive coordinator Greg Olson echoed that sentiment.
“A number of players will have their roles increase and not just Zay, but Zay is certainly one of them,” Olson said. “When you lose a playmaker, other playmakers need to step up.”
Going into training camp, wide receiver was considered one of the Raiders’ strongest positions. They’d traded third- and fifth-round draft picks for Antonio Brown and signed Tyrell Williams to a four-year free-agent contract worth a maximum of $44 million.
Brown, of course, self-destructed, was released before Week 1 and is temporarily out of football. Williams has missed two games with a foot injury, has dropped some key passes and has 32 receptions for 480 yards and five touchdowns.
They have had nine different wideouts catch passes as coach Jon Gruden searches for the right combination. Three of them — Ryan Grant, J.J. Nelson and Dwayne Harris — are no longer on the roster. Grant and Nelson were released, while Harris is on injured reserve.
Carr’s favorite target among the wideouts of late on third down has been Renfrow, the sixth-round draft pick from Clemson with a knack for getting open as a slot receiver. He leads the Raiders’ receivers with 36 receptions for 396 yards.
With Jones arriving Oct. 8 in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick from Buffalo,he simply can’t match the time put in by Carr and Renfrow together to create chemistry.
“We spend a lot of time during training camp before every walkthrough, we would walk the field and go over certain types of routes we knew we were going to throw. We did every day,” Carr said.