Raiders tight end Mychal Rivera has his own website, and it’s called touchdownrivera.com.
So far this season, he’s failed to live up to his Web address. His total touchdown catches: zero.
After a strong rookie season in which Rivera emerged to catch 38 passes for 407 yards and four TDs – with 25 of those receptions going for first downs – Rivera has taken a step back.
In six games he’s caught just 13 balls for 101 yards, no scores and only a 7.8-yard average per catch.
After not losing a fumble as a rookie, Rivera has lost one already in 2014, and has been plagued by dropped balls – many of them appearing right on target from quarterback Derek Carr.
In fact, the Raiders – who at 0-6 will go after their first win this Sunday in Cleveland against the 3-3 Browns -- have gotten very little out of the tight end position. Backup Brian Leonardt has just four catches for 26 yards and a TD and David Ausberry – who now is out again with a foot injury – has two catches for 14 yards.
The Raiders still believe in Rivera, who showed a knack for getting open and making key catches during his rookie season. This week, in fact, interim head coach Tony Sparano gave Rivera a vote of confidence.
“I think Mike has done a good job right now,” Sparano said. He did note the drops Rivera has had this season, but sounded as if the Raiders would continue to keep throwing him the ball until he gets back on track.
“We have all the confidence in the world in Mychal Rivera,” said Sparano. “I think he’s an outstanding football player and he is a guy that the quarterback really trusts out there. It’s just a matter of time here before you start to really feel him and he starts to get involved into the mix, too.”
Rivera needs to put together a good second half or risk getting phased out. Going forward, the Raiders offense needs a tight end, and it likely would be a high priority in free agency or the draft if Rivera doesn’t begin playing the way he did in 2013.
Oakland hasn’t gotten good production out of the position since 2012, when Brandon Myers had 79 catches.