There is a line from a cheesy 80’s power ballad, “The search is over, you were with me all the while.” The Oakland Raiders could easily apply that line to second year wide receiver Chaz Schilens. They spent the offseason and two draft choices in the 2009 draft on wide receivers. However, though the offseason workouts, training camp, and the first preseason game Schilens looked to be the best option not named Zach Miller to catch the ball for the Raiders.
However, all of that came tumbling down when Schilens planted his foot on a route and broke his fifth metatarsal bone in his foot. This injury is expected to keep him out of action for at least 6-8 weeks.
During the preseason battle against the Dallas Cowboys, JaMarcus Russell demonstrated the type of confidence in Schilens that he once reserved for Miller alone. Schilens caught five passes, and was the intended target on an incompletion that resulted in a pass interference call that set up the Raiders first score.
Schilens was set to emerge as the go to possession receiver the Raiders have not seen since the days of Tim Brown and Jerry Rice. With his big frame and high work ethic, he was going to be the downfield threat that would free up Miller to catch passes.
With Schilens going down, that leaves the likely receiver corps of Darrius Heyward-Bey, Louis Murphy, Javon Walker, Johnnie Lee Higgins, and Nick Miller. Walker is the one who has the skill set best suited to the role that Chaz was going to fill. However, that will only come to pass if Walker is as healthy as he claims to be after his mystery surgery over the offseason.
Heyward-Bey, Higgins, and Nick Miller are all three speedsters who are going to be more effective at forcing the defensive backfield to play deeper to open up the underneath routes. Walker and Murphy can fill that possession receiver role, but Schilens was already looking tailor made to take it.
Javon Walker is supposed to be able to join the team for full practices starting on Monday. He may not see any game action until the final week of the preseason, so that leaves many questions for the Raiders receiving corps that seemed to be coming together quite well.