“Overwhelmed” but prepared, “intense” but confident, depicts the range of emotions Oakland Raiders rookie wide receiver Rod Streater is experiencing as the six week grind of training camp culminates into what may very well be the undrafted Temple wide-out’s professional NFL debut this Monday night at home against the rival San Diego Chargers.
“It’s a dream come true, every kid wants to go out there and play on Monday night, but I didn’t expect it to come this soon,” expressed a humble Streater.
Playing in the Mid-Atlantic Conference for Temple University, which has since left the MAC opting for the Big East, operating a run heavy offensive scheme, Streater is right to have a sense of personal astonishment as he admits, during April, to “just wanting a team to pick me up,” well aware as to the anemic odds of guy will only 19 receptions getting drafted.
“Reggie McKenzie and Ted Gilmore called my old receivers coaches,” revealed Streater further explaining the process, “they really felt like I could play there and they told them that so I felt like this was the place to go and I had that sense that this was the right decision.”
Beyond his correct intuition, it is the skilled attributes and abilities of the 24 year-old receiver that has drawn the high praises of new head coach Dennis Allen, along side encouraging remarks from quarterback Carson Palmer, that have not only solidified a spot amongst the 45 game day actives but also have him pushing for a starting job.
“I sit down and watch film with [Palmer] every chance I get,” states the wide-eyed rookie adding of the former Bengals veteran QB starting his first full season as well with the Silver and Black, “He helps me with defenses, reading coverages; any little thing that helps me get open, I take it all in from him.” Away from the film room, Streater successfully transitions the hours of study to the field noting “the accuracy” of his quarterback. “He puts the ball where it needs to be, he’s just a smart football player; it’s just a great experience working with him.”
And of his overall rookie training camp experience, Streater distinctly offers, “It was intense [with] a lot of plays coming at us,” revealing the speed of the game to be “way quicker” than he had anticipated. “You always got to be on you’re A-game when you’re going out there for every day of practice,” added Streater. It’s an everyday practice that features that hard-hitting secondary comprised with the likes of strong safety Tyvon Branch who Streater explains is, “ready to take your head off [so] you just got to know what you doing and bring it every snap.”
And from the on set of camp, in an astute decision, wise beyond his young 24 football years, the rookie dedicated himself to the playbook, determined to “learn every position,” as he explains it understanding, “the fastest way to get on the field [is] if you know what you are doing.”
It is a move that will likely yield immediate dividends for the Monday Night Football home opener against the San Diego Chargers as the injury bug has again temporarily sidelined the Oakland wide receiver core with slot man Jacoby Ford again battling a troublesome foot injury and second year standout Denarius Moore missing most of camp due a nagging hamstring only returning to practice this week. “I play all the positions, so wherever the coaches feel like they need me at, I’m going to be there,” informs a prepared Streater,” furthering, “if outside opposite DHB [Darrius Heyward-Bey] or in the slot, I think I can line up pretty good wherever they want me at. I just got to go out there and execute.”
As far execution, Streater also is equally prepared “to bring [his] blocking expertise to the game,” for Oakland’s stellar pass-catching dual running back Darren McFadden who he describes as an “explosive… special back,” the likes of which he’s never before seen in person. “He’s healthy; he’s full speed; he’s making cuts at 100 percent,” stated Streater of the former Arkansas Razor back that missed nine games last season to a Lisfranc injury diagnosis.
And back in the preparatory ‘T-Branch head-hunting’ practices that were “only friendly competition” designed to bring “out the best of us,” Streater really appreciates being able, “to go against cornerbacks like Ron Bartell and Shawntae Spencer,” crediting them with helping him step his game up all in preparation for the pro-debut now just mere hours away opposite a stout San Diego secondary.
“The cornerback [Quentin] Jammer, he’s long, lanky; he’s physical, he can get his hands on you, so you got to be quick at the line and be ready for anything,” explains Streater anxiously adding, “I got to get back in and watch some more on the guys.” But the defensive back position is not exactly foreign to Streater as he revealed he “played defense back in the day,” when asked about perhaps the most defining play indicative of the rookie receiver’s character and attitude for the game.
“I’m always just hustling, whatever it is, blocking backside; always one play that comes up that wins the game, you just got to go hard every play,” believes Streater explaining his motivation for a touchdown saving tackle in the pre-season against the Arizona Cardinals which saw Streater cut clear across the field and run down intercepting safety Kerry Rhodes.
“I didn’t even realize that Carson threw a pick until I heard the crowd start cheering,” revealed Streater explaining he believed his speed was capable of catching Rhodes when he saw him cutting across field. “That’s the type of player I am; always hustle and you never know what that play can do,” states Streater believing “in the long run” of the six point saving tackle that it, “could have saved us the game,” after the defense would hold the Cardinals offense to just a field goal.
And the greatest threat to ‘saving’ and ultimately winning games is losing the turnover differential. “We really focused on ball security,” said Streater after the Arizona game emphasizing the camp theme to, “go out there and play every play, protect the ball [and] continue to work hard because you don’t know what play is going to spring the ball game,” realizing, “the little things add up in the end.”
And as the 2012 Oakland Raiders season signifies the beginning of a “New Era of Excellence,” it too represents to end of a legacy as the club lost its longtime polarizing, iconic as intriguing figure, largely instrumental in the AFL-NFL league merger, owner Al Davis.
“Everybody is just trying to carry it on, you can even hear the crowd scream ‘Just Win Baby’, said the young receiver “excited” to wear and represent the number 80 below the Streater name on the back of his silver and black jersey revealing, “one of my favorite receivers was Jerry Rice,” the Hall of Fame San Francisco 49er wide receiver who had a three year stint with the Raiders from 2001 to 2004.
is all too familiar with the long list of great receivers names that have hauled in passes from the likes of Darryle LaMonica, Ken Stabler, Jim Plunkett, and Rich Gannon. Himself, along with other camp rookie standout and roommate Juron Criner, who Streater explains fully supported and bettered one another through their rookie journey, are ready to commit to the new excellence. “We studied together, we prepared each other to get ready for practice; go through plays, go through situations, just so we had the knowledge going in because we’re both rookies,” said Streater as the duo will hope to one day join the illustrious list of wide-outs that includes Tim Brown, Cliff Branch, Wille Gault, Art Powell, Fred Biletnikoff, Warren Wells and Meryvn Fernandez.
“I want to continue the legacy … and carry out what these guys built on. It’s an honor for me to be here and play under such a traditional place,” states Streater fully humbled by the magnitude and worthy of the immediate opportunity in front of him and future potential awaiting him.