Editor’s note: This is the second part in a series that spotlights three Cardinals-Raiders matchups to watch Sunday, 1:25 p.m., at O.co Coliseum.
Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson vs. Raiders WR Andre Holmes
Tale of the tape:
Peterson (21): 6-foot-1, 219 pounds, fourth season, Louisiana State
Holmes (18): 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, third season, Hillsdale College
Andre Holmes is on quite a tear. The 26-year old has nine catches for 195 yards and three touchdowns in his last two games, where he started and played significant snaps. He’s done this for the Raiders before, with a similar two-game stretch in 2013.
Statistics have fluctuated during his relatively short Raiders tenure, but the Silver and Black need him to be far steadier now. It will be important to sustain success because rookie quarterback Derek Carr targets him frequently, especially deep downfield.
That’s a sign of trust from a quarterback who counts on his receivers to make plays in single coverage. Holmes has certainly done that recently, including a 77-yard touchdown strike to open the scoring against San Diego.
“I definitely trust him, no doubt,” Carr said. “I like the size of our receivers also, the ones that play outside. I love giving them chances to go get balls. When they do, it puts it in the back of my head like ‘he caught the last one, let’s go at it again.’ So I definitely like giving those guys chances, especially when I know that they’ll come down with it.”
Sunday offers a great chance for Holmes to increase Carr’s level of confidence. He’ll often be matched up with Arizona’s Patrick Peterson, a physical cornerback who can shut receivers down. Carr has shown a willingness to throw at such corners, so Holmes should expect some targets when he and Peterson lock horns. The Cardinals’ high-priced cover man has struggled some this early season, but he’s still a difficult matchup now highly motivated. If Holmes can succeed in that environment, he can play well against most anyone.
Holmes has struggled to secure easily catchable short passes – he had two drops last week -- in contrast to his efforts downfield. The Raiders need him to do better in all areas and take some pressure off steady veteran James Jones.
“Sometimes you get a receiver like Andre who can track the ball well down the field, particularly when he’s fronted up that way,” interim head coach Tony Sparano said. “I think sometimes, when the ball gets on a young player fast, that takes a little bit more work sometimes in those situations. … He spends an awful lot of time out there trying to catch those kind of balls. He spends a lot of time at it and works very hard.”