In his final college season at Ohio, cornerback T.J. Carrie was a dangerous player with the ball in his hands.
He returned two interceptions for touchdowns, averaged 12.7 yards per punt return and was selected the punt returner on the All-Mid-American Conference first team.
When the Raiders selected Carrie in the seventh round of the draft in May, they did it with the knowledge that Carrie might give them a standout special teams performer.
So far, so good.
With two exhibition games remaining this summer – including Friday night’s against the Packers in Green Bay – Carrie is still battling veteran wide receiver Denarius Moore for the job as No. 1 punt returner.
Both have played well, and both are coming off strong games against the Lions last week. Moore had the big play, a 50-yard return in which he picked up a bouncing ball, weaved his way behind some strong blocking and darted down the sideline. He also had a 13-yard return.
Moore also impressed with some great moves on an 11-yard return, flashing the shiftiness he’s shown as a receiver.
“I think both him (Carrie) and Denarius Moore have done a nice job,” head coach Dennis Allen told reporters after Wednesday’s practice. “Both of them had effective returns in the game the other night. We’re going to continue to look at both of those guys as poential punt return options, and aagin we’ve got a couple more games to look at that, but I feel more comfortable now with where we’re at from a punt-return standpoint than I did coming into training camp, that’s for sure.”
Oakland ranked near the bottom of the NFL in 2013 with an average of just 8.2 yards per punt return.
Carrie has shown he has breakaway ability as a returner, which could go a long way in 2014 to helping the Raiders win field-position battles. He’s also a solid player on other special teams units and has shown some potential in pass coverage.
The job is still up for grabs, but it appears either Carrie or Moore will make the Raiders much more effective returning punts in 2014 than in recent seasons.