The Raiders had high hopes for Zay Jones in early October when they traded a draft pick to the Buffalo Bills to get the veteran wide receiver.
In need of reinforcements for the receiving corps, the Raiders hoped the 24-year-old, third-year player, who caught 56 passes and had seven touchowns in 2018 for the Bills, would add some juice to the passing attack.
So far, that hasn’t happened.
In five games with Oakland, Jones never has been targeted more than four times in any game and never has had more than 27 yards in a game. He’s caught only 11 passes for 88 yards and no scores and is averaging just 8.0 yards per reception. That’s not a high-impact wideout by any means.
Yet now that Oakland has lost starting slot receiver Hunter Renfrow (perhaps for the rest of the season), the Raiders must start throwing the ball Jones’ way to see if he can pick up the slack, beginning Sunday in an important AFC West game between the 6-5 Raiders and 7-4 Chiefs in Kansas City. Another little-used wideout, Trevor Davis, also will get more snaps, and another, Rico Gafford, has been activated from the practice squad.
Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson says it’s time for Jones – and others – to make more contributions. Renfrow had become a favorite target of Derek Carr, especially on third downs.
"When you lose a playmaker, other playmakers have to step up," Jones told Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Jones has been getting snaps each game, but not the passes. That hasn’t bothered him.
"I feel very comfortable," he told reporters this week. "However, I cannot control the goals. I feel like I’m doing my job, getting a good split, opening up. This stuff will come."
For the Raiders, that needs to be Sunday, to help Carr and the offense control the ball, put up some early points and try to keep the ball away from an explosive Chiefs offense.
Oddsmakers have made the Chiefs 10-point favorites. Kickoff for Sunday’s game is set for 10 a.m.