Raiders Will Seek Help at Tight End

Injuries to Ausberry, Kasa leave Oakland way too thin at the position; free-agent acquisition seems likely before season

The Raiders ended a two-day joint practice session with the Dallas Cowboys Wednesday in an upbeat mood.

The offense reportedly looked very good against the Dallas defense on Day 2, and the team in general came away upbeat after some lively practices. Head coach Dennis Allen said he saw marked improvements in his team this week.

“I like the direction our run game is headed,” he told Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group. “I think we have to make some strides in the passing game in time. There are a lot of new pieces in that part of our offense. Defensively, I’ve been impressed with our ability to rush the passer. Those are some signs that this team’s getting better.”

But as the team gets ready for its second exhibition game of the summer, Friday night vs. the Detroit Lions at Coliseum, the Raiders are concerned about their situation at tight end.

Oakland lost Nick Kasa this week in the workouts with Dallas in Oxnard, Calif., and it appears the second-year pro is out for the season, probably with an ACL tear. Already, the Raiders had lost David Ausberry, who might have started this season.

That leaves Mychal Rivera as the leader to start, with Brian Leonhardt – who spent all last season on the practice squad – behind him. Two rookie free agents, Jake Murphy and Scott Simonson, also are in camp.

Allen told reporters after Wednesday’s practices that the Raiders will be looking for additional help at the position before the start of the season Sept. 7.

Paul Gutierrez of again brought up the prospect of the Raiders bringing in former Packers standout Jermichael Finley, a 27-year-old free agent who had a career-threatening neck injury last season.

Gutierrez also suggested that fullback Marcel Reece could be used more in the passing game to pick up the slack, but Allen told Gutierrez the team won’t use Reece as a tight end.

“Him (Reece) and Mychal Rivera really do a lot of the same types of things,” Allen said. “There hasn’t been a lot of thought process about putting (Reece) as an in-line blocker. … But some of the things that we do with him are very similar to what we do with the tight ends.”

The best bet for the Raiders is to sit tight and wait. As training camps wind down, other teams will be making cuts and there should be some tight ends available.

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