ALAMEDA – Raiders quarterback Matt McGloin likes to find favorable coverage, throw to a spot and let his receivers make a big play. He saw that receiver Andre Holmes was in single coverage, and lofted a pass to that Holmes jumped up and grabbed.
McGloin showed tremendous faith in a player with just five career catches entering Thursday’s game. Against the Cowboys, Holmes had seven. For a whopping 136 yards.
An injury to Denarius Moore and attention paid to Rod Streater set up this breakout game, where Holmes flashed tremendous potential. That’s an important moment for these 4-8 Raiders, a team in transition looking diamonds in the rough.
“He took advantage of the opportunities that he had afforded to him,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. “When the ball went to him, he made the plays down the field. I just think when the ball went to him, he went up and made the plays. He was able to do that in some other games too. He had a couple of big plays in the Houston game, one that was a big play and one that should have been a big play. So, Andre is a guy, obviously, that we feel very comfortable with. He is a big target, and he can really stretch the field vertically.”
Holmes could be a fixture on next year’s roster, a vital presence on a team with little receiving production beyond Moore and Streater.
The Raiders stuck with Holmes despite a four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. The second-year pro had a terrific training camp, using his size and strength to win receptions thrown up for grabs.
He practiced well with little to show for it until Thursday. Holmes had a career day against his old team, who kept him on the practice squad and never gave him much of a chance.
His motivation was high, and it brought out his best.
“I felt really good out there,” Holmes said. “If I had a calendar, I would’ve checked this day. I wanted to come here and play well in front of a team I had played for. It just stinks that we didn’t get the win. A lot of guys came over after the game and said I did a good job. That felt really good.”
Expect Holmes to be a primary target with McGloin under center. The undrafted rookie worked extensively with Holmes running the second and third string in training camp and the early season.
Holmes is a reliable target who can make plays out of his break, a trait valued by the way McGloin plays.
“He’s a guy I definitely trust,” McGloin said. “He’s a good player. He works hard. He goes about his business day in and day out. He’s a guy that will go and get the ball for you. He’s a guy I look for and try to get the ball to. He does good things with the ball in his hands.”