As Gareon Conley was leaving Oakland last week, traded to the Houston Texans, he told rookie cornerback Trayvon Mullen he believed in him.
The second-round draft pick was stepping into Conley’s starting spot and was eager to show he belonged.
The words of encouragement from Conley – and his own coaching staff – meant a lot to him, and he was eager to show the Raiders their faith in him was justified.
“I’m going to prove to them that they can trust and believe in me, and that I’m going to make the plays that come to me,” Mullen told reporters.
Then, on Sunday in a loss to the Texans in Houston, Mullen did just that.
According to the analytic website Pro Football Focus, Mullen was targeted in coverage four times and allowed just two catches for a total of 10 yards. He also had a pass breakup and almost had a pick-six touchdown return, but dropped the pass.
Mullen allowed just a 56.3 passer rating when targeted and received a 70.9 overall grade from PFF, his highest mark of this season. Mullen not only started, but played on special teams.
If Mullen falters, the Raiders have other young cornerbacks ready and poised to take their shots at the job. But for now, after a strong starting debut, Mullen appears ready to fill Conley’s role and help an Oakland team that returns to action Sunday at home against the Detroit Lions.
Kickoff for the game is set for 1:05 p.m. between the 3-4 Raiders and 3-3-1 Lions.