When Zach Miller left the Raiders this summer to sign as a free agent with Seattle, he left a black hole at the tight end position.
In four seasons with Oakland, Miller had been an effective and durable target, averaging 56.5 catches per season. In each of the past two seasons, he’d caught more than 60 balls while missing just two games.
To fill the hole in their lineup, the Raiders signed former Giant Kevin Boss.
Boss, however, was injured in an exhibition game and missed the first two games of this season. If his debut Sunday in the victory over the Jets is any indication, Boss likely will be a big part of Oakland’s offense in 2011.
He had two catches for 36 yards, including a 28-yarder that helped set up Oakland’s first TD. And, his blocking also played a significant role.
Boss – who is considered a better blocker than Miller, but perhaps not as skilled a receiver – also made a key block on Darren McFadden’s 70-yard touchdown run.
“It’s one of those things that’s overlooked often,” Boss told the Sacramento Bee Monday. “But to be able to get in there and do some of that dirty work is fun.”
While with the Giants, Boss – as a rookie -- took over for the injured Jeremy Shockey and helped New York win the Super Bowl. In four seasons with the Giants, the 6-foot-6, 253-pounder caught 18 TD passes, and his work as a blocker was praised.
When he signed with Oakland in August – a four-year, $16 million deal – he knew he had big shoes to fill.
“Zach Miller had a lot of success here,” he told reporters. “And I’m hoping to continue that success at this position.”
After one game, it appears he will. And, he’s enjoying the experience.
Playing in front of a loud, energized crowd at the O.co Coliseum and knocking off the Jets still had him smiling on Monday.
“It was awesome,” he told Vittorio Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle. “It was more fun than I even really expected. I told my family after the game it’s the most fun I’ve had in a football game in a long time.”