ALAMEDA – Michael Crabtree has become a trusted resource in the Raiders passing game, a safety net for quarterback Derek Carr.
That was crystal clear during Sunday's 17-10 victory over the Tennessee Titans, when he was targeted 11 times. He caught eight of those passes for 102 yards, his first triple-digit game of the year.
On a day when young receivers struggled hanging onto the football, Crabtree was a steady presence that extended drives and kept the Raiders on top.
Crabtree was targeted four times on third down against Tennessee, and six of his receptions resulted in first downs.
"He just gets open," Carr said. "He gets open and he makes tough catches, very tough. And, he's one of the most competitive guys I've ever been around. I think that his competitiveness is what separates him."
Carr has great trust in the eighth-year veteran and former 49ers receiver. That was clear from the get-go this season, when Crabtree was the selected target on the game-winning two-point conversion in New Orleans.
Crabtree has been a possession receiver extraordinaire during a stretch where teams are playing safeties deep in an attempt to prevent against the Raiders' big-play threats.
"Teams are seeing that we like to take shots, we like to hit the deep ball and they try to take it away," Carr said. "So, then it goes to receivers and those guys underneath making catches and then making people miss. So far, he's done a great job of it."
Crabtree is averaging 3.7 yards after the catch, and has forced four missed tackles in three games thus far. He is securing receptions at a rapid rate, turning 80 percent of his targets into receptions. He's on pace to exceed 1,000 receiving yards for the first time since 2012, though he had 922 in 2015, his first season in Oakland.
"One of the things I've always noticed about him is that he has great hands." Amari Cooper said. "…If you throw him the ball, he's going to come down with it. He runs good routes. He just makes plays."