The two top picks for the Raiders did not play in the team’s first preseason game as Tyree Wilson (foot) and Michael Mayer (undisclosed) both work their way back from injuries.
But the good news is that the Raiders expect both players to be ready for Week 1 and to play big roles on the team. Wilson won’t start as he’s playing behind two Pro Bowl players in Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones. But Mayer will. Or at least, that’s the expectation.
In a recent article by Tashan Reed of The Athletic, he did an early 53-man roster prediction after Week 1 of the preseason. One note that he had in the piece was that Mayer is expected to be the team’s opening-day starter at tight end over Austin Hooper. Here is a snippet of what he had to say about the rookie tight end from Notre Dame:
Mayer has missed significant time during OTAs and training camp due to undisclosed injuries and has taken his lumps as a blocker, but he’s still clearly the Raiders’ best option at tight end. Hooper, who is Mayer’s only real competition, is more of a complementary piece than a three-down tight end. It feels unlikely the Raiders will keep more than three tight ends.
Because Mayer has missed so much time this offseason, there is a chance that the Raiders could rotate their tight ends early in the season. But the expectation remains the same as the Raiders traded up for Mayer in the 2023 NFL Draft because they believe he can be a difference-maker at the position right away.
Look for Mayer to be out on the field with the starters at some point in the preseason as the team needs to get him up to speed so that he is ready for Week 1 when they take on the Broncos in Denver.