In the Raiders’ season-opening game against the Bengals, wide receiver Rod Streater had the ball thrown his way once and came away with an 8-yard catch.
Over the next 15 games, Streater didn’t play a down.
The 6-foot-3 former Temple standout – who picked up the nickname “Hot Rod” during his sensational 2012 Raiders training camp when he earned a roster spot – simply disappeared.
After catching 39 passes for 584 yards and three touchdowns as a rookie and then pulling in 60 passes for 888 yards and four TDs in 2013, Streater gradually has faded from sight. In 2014 an early-season foot injury limited him to three games and nine catches. With his foot healed, Streater went to training camp in 2015 determined to play a big role under new head coach Jack Del Rio and his staff, yet was hampered by an illness.
When he finally was activated in August, Del Rio told a reporter, “He looks good, looks fresh. He passed the conditioning test and got himself ready to go.”
But by that time, Streater was buried on the depth chart behind Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Andre Holmes and Seth Roberts.
In November, Del Rio said Streater was healthy and ready to contribute, yet hadn’t been activated for a game since the opener. Streater simply had been surpassed.
“It’s a tough situation for him,” Del Rio told the media. “He’s done everything we’ve asked. He’s a great young man. He practices hard every week to keep himself prepared. He knows that if anything were to happen, he’s going to be called on. But we have a good group that’s played well all year and remained healthy.”
Now Streater’s future with the Raiders is uncertain.
He’s one of 13 unrestricted free agents on the roster, along with fellow wideout Holmes. Will the Raiders want to bring back both? Or just one? Or neither?
When he was healthy, Streater looked as if he were capable of emerging into a big-time playmaker. He had the size and the toughness to battle defensive backs for the ball. And, while benched for the 2015 season, he stayed positive – a good sign for the future.
But that future may now be with another team in 2016.