Michael Crabtree

Early star of Raiders training camp: former 49er Michael Crabtree

With the first three days of training camp for the Oakland Raiders officially in the books, one player has stood out above all of the rest. He’s made the secondary look foolish while making second-year quarterback Derek Carr look great. He’s had at least one acrobatic catch in every practice and has coaches and fans in awe of his playmaking ability.

Nope, it’s not rookie Amari Cooper, it’s veteran Michael Crabtree.

After failing to garner much interest in the free agent market, Crabtree signed a one-year deal with the Oakland in the hope of using the opportunity to produce the kind of free agent payday he was looking for this year. Clearly it’s still early, but it appears as though Crabtree has taken his experience to heart and is playing with a chip on his shoulder.

Which is exactly how the Raiders want him playing.

Part of the beauty behind these one-year deals general manager Reggie McKenzie has become known for is the players on those deals tend to be highly motivated. Crabtree was not guaranteed a starting role when he came to the Raiders, but thus far he looks like a lock to earn one with the way he is playing. He doesn’t appear to have any lingering effects from the Achilles injury that slowed him in 2014 … playing against a lackluster Oakland secondary doesn’t hurt either.

Plus, his style is a great compliment to Cooper, who is more of a burner who can stretch the field. Having a possession receiver like Crabtree playing opposite Cooper could make both players better.

After constantly failing to land big-time performers in free agency, Crabtree appears ready to buck that trend for the Raiders. Rather than simply getting another player at the tail end of his career trying to give it one last go, the Raiders may have found a player in the middle of his career who is ready to make a comeback. Most expect the drought of 1,000-yard receivers in Oakland to end this season. The Raiders have only practiced for three days since camp began, but Crabtree is the one who looks set to break that mark.

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