Can Keelan Doss keep up the momentum?
The undrafted wide receiver out of UC Davis (by way of Alameda) has been one of the bright spots for the Raiders in training camp, impressing both the coaching staff and his teammates. Then, in his first professional game he caught two passes, including one 3-yard slant for a touchdown, against the Los Angeles Rams in the preseason opener this past weekend.
In the process, he became one of the stars of the second episode of HBO’s "Hard Knocks," the show focused on the Raiders’ training camp.
But, Doss is a long shot to make the roster, so he’ll have to continue to play well in practice and in Thursday night’s game in Arizona against the Cardinals – and the remaining two – to have a shot.
Doss said the experience playing against the Rams, while playing in his hometown stadium for his hometown team, was "surreal." Before that game, he says he told himself, "Your time is now. Let’s take advantage of it."
"I’ve been coming here damn near my whole life, and just seeing in person on the field is kind of a really cool moment," he told Kyle Martin of the Raiders website. "As soon as you hit the field it over with and you got a game to prepare for, so that’s kind of what my mindset was."
The chance to score a TD in his first pro game, with family and friends among the crowd, was something he’ll treasure.
"As soon as I scored the touchdown, I was pretty excited, man," he told Martin. "I don’t usually, for me, emotions don’t really get the best of me during the game, but during that moment it was kind of a surreal moment. I had to calm myself down again and just realize the next play is another opportunity."
Doss recently told Matt Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle that he carries a "chip on my shoulder" from going undrafted.
In camp, he’s been getting opportunities at both wide receiver positions, plus the slot. It will be a challenge to make the roster, with Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams, draftee Hunter Renfrow, J.J. Nelson, Ryan Grant, Marcell Ateman, Keon Hatcher and Dwayne Harris also in the mix.
But, the 6-foot-3, 209-pounder had a monster season for UC Davis in 2018, with 118 catches for 1,345 yards and nine TDs. The year before, he led all of college football with 136.3 receiving yards per game and had 115 catches for 1,499 yards.
Doss says the fact other NFL teams passed on him has fueled his drive to make this team, and points to Brown and Williams as other receivers who didn’t get much attention coming out of college but have become success stories.
“What makes those players great in my opinion is they come out with a purpose and chip on their shoulder, and that’s kind of what I thrive on as well,” he told Kawahara.