The Oakland Raiders won their third game of the season and their third out of the last five games. In each win, one or two players stood out as the hero(es) for the day. In their first win against the Chiefs, it was running back Latavius Murray. In their second win against the 49ers, it was quarterback Derek Carr. In their third win against the Buffalo Bills, it was two guys, wide receivers Kenbrell Thompkins and Andre Holmes.
Holmes, who joined the Raiders in 2014, is a big-bodied receiver with good speed who struggles to find consistency with his hands and route running. But on Sunday, he played extremely well, frequently high-pointing the ball and coming down with throws that were nothing more than 50/50 balls. He finished the day with three catches for 73 yards, including a huge catch in the fourth quarter on 3rd-and-22 that helped the Raiders secure the win.
Thompkins, who had a surprisingly strong rookie year with the Patriots in 2014, was unexpectedly cut by New England and picked up by the Raiders in the middle of this season. He’s shown some signs of quality play since joining the Silver and Black, but Sunday was easily his best performance. Thompkins finished with five catches for 90 yards, including a 50-yard grab that helped set up Oakland’s first touchdown.
Throughout the year it’s been clear that the Raiders offense was in need of a lot of help. There were no playmakers at any of the skill positions. The best wide receiver was James Jones, a possession receiver at this stage of his career. At running back, Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew combined to be all-stars for the all-geriatric team.
But now that the season is out of hand, younger players are seeing more time and some are taking advantage. Murray has shown he deserves to be a big part of the offense in 2015, and now some receivers are starting to make their own arguments. Thompkins and Holmes need to display more consistency, but both have already shown they deserve roster spots in 2015. Now it’s time to see if they can prove they deserve prominent roles as well.