The Raiders are just the latest stop for wide receiver Griff Whalen.
The former Stanford standout has played for the Colts, the Chargers and Ravens in his six-year career, but at 28 found himself without a team after Oct. 31 last season when he was released by Baltimore.
In March, the Raiders signed the free agent, but the odds have been long for him to make the opening-game roster. With Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson, Martavis Bryant, Ryan Switzer, Seth Roberts, Johnny Holton and rookie draft choice Marcell Ateman to contend with, Whalen is in a battle.
Yet head coach Jon Gruden has become a fan. Whalen isn’t big (5-foot-11, 190) and doesn’t have Olympic speed, but Gruden likes his overall game. Gruden says Whalen has been “steady” throughout summer practices and has gotten more action because of a recent injury to Roberts and Bryant’s spate of headaches.
“Whalen has stepped up,” Gruden told reporters recently. “He earned the right. He’s doing some great things.”
Whalen’s probably best out of the slot, and a number of receivers are likely to see action there.
Said Gruden: “It’s a very competitive position at the slot.”
Against the Rams on Saturday, Whalen had a strong game, with a late touchdown catch.
In two games Whalen has three catches for 20 yards, has returned four punts for an average of 11.5 yards and returned two kickoffs for a 22.5-yard average. He’s shown he can contribute in a number of ways.
“They just told me coming in they were giving me an opportunity to compete, and that’s all I can ask for,” Whalen said. “And so I feel like I’ve taken advantage of every opportunity that I’ve been able to, and just try to show them what I can do.”
Whalen’s best season came in 2013 with the Colts. He played nine games, caught 24 passes for two touchdowns and averaged 10.8 yards per reception. Over his NFL career he has 51 catches for 532 yards and three TDs.
The Raiders will resume exhibition action Friday night vs. the Packers in Oakland. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.