Keelan Doss Must Keep Competing as Raiders Solve Wide Receiver Issues

Through three weeks of the 2019 season, it's become clear the Raiders have an issue at wide receiver.

After Antonio Brown's release, the Raiders have struggled to find weapons for quarterback Derek Carr to get the ball to outside of Tyrell Williams and tight end Darren Waller.

J.J. Nelson made his Raiders debut Sunday in Oakland's 34-14 loss to the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium, but the receiver wasn't the electric speed weapon he appeared to be during training camp. Rookie Hunter Renfrow hasn't seen a lot of balls thrown his way early, and veteran Ryan Grant was a healthy scratch after two dud outings to open the year.

Naturally, the next question is: Well, what about Keelan Doss?

The undrafted rookie and Alameda native became a fan favorite thanks to HBO's "Hard Knocks," and flashed some skill during the preseason. After getting cut by the Raiders, Doss returned to the Silver and Back after Brown's release, but has yet to find himself in the rotation.

After opening the season with a win over the Broncos, the Raiders' offense has sputtered over its last seven quarters in losses to the Vikings and Chiefs. So, is it Doss time?

"Like I said, we used a lot of double tight end sets yesterday," coach Jon Gruden said Monday. "We used three tight ends at times. For a reason, we got a great group of tight ends. That are playing better than just about any unit on our offense. They are playing outstanding football. I know Doss is a topic that comes up a lot, He's a rookie. He's right now playing three different positions and he's backing up all three.

"When the time is right, you'll see him. But right now he's got to keep competing, getting better like all young players."

With Grant scratched and Nelson mostly ineffective save a 29-yard touchdown on a flea-flicker, Gruden is hoping to get some more out of his wide receivers this week in practice, which includes Doss and new addition Trevor Davis. The Raiders' overall health, however, has contributed to Gruden's ability to trot out the receiving corps he wants.

"We're having a hard time assembling the game-day actives to be honest with you," Gruden said. "We went with the extra offensive lineman yesterday just because it was Incognito's first game playing in a long time, we knew Trent Brown hadn't practiced much, so we felt like we needed to have eight offensive linemen against a formidable front like the Vikings. So we can't have five receivers or X amount of players at a certain position, so that's the reason [Grant] was scratched. 

"This week we're going to make it competitive, we're going to let Trevor Davis have an opportunity to get on the grass. We didn't bring him in here to watch. (J.J. Nelson) did a couple good things as the Z, but obviously, that's a position that's not really solved yet. Unfortunately, it's a big part of our offense, the flanker position."

[RELATED: Raiders at crossroads after Week 3 blowout loss]

The Raiders will need the offense to be more explosive in Week 4 when they travel to Lucas Oil Stadium to face the 2-1 Indianapolis Colts. Facing four more games away from Oakland before returning home in November, the Raiders must rally in order to avoid falling into a hole they can't climb out of.

Adversity, after all, is the name of the game in the NFL.

"There's a lot of adversity right now in this league," Gruden said. "The Colts lost their starting quarterback before the season started. There's a lot of adversity, there's a lot of teams that are 1-2 and 0-3 and dealing with it. It's a hard business and guys are going to learn some valuable lessons."

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