It’s not often that a seventh-round draft pick enters his fourth season with the expectations of being his teams’ starter, but it does happen every once in a while. That’s the case for Raiders’ wide receiver Chaz Schillens this season.
Drafted just one spot ahead of Cleveland running back Peyton Hillis in the 2008 draft, Schillens was nearly not drafted at all. The wideout from San Diego State was pick 226 of 252, and came into the NFL with a reputation of being a talented player prone to injury.
Unfortunately for the Raiders, Schillens has proven to be more ‘injury’ than ‘talent’ as a pro.
“It’s been frustrating, but I’m past it,” said the Raiders’ wide receiver after practice on Saturday. “I’m just ready to come out here and do whatever I can.”
Foot and knee problems have prevented Schillens from reaching his full potential. After three seasons, he’s caught just 49 passes for 631 yards and five touchdowns. Though an average of a little more than 16 receptions a season doesn’t invoke thoughts of a star receiver, many believe an injury-free season from Schillens will elevate him to that status.
But first, he has to win the starter’s role.
“I don’t really think about [being] the No. 1 [receiver],” said Schillens. “Whatever happens, happens, man. If I can go out there and help us win and catch a few touchdowns and have a lot of good playing time, I’ll be happy with it.”
Head coach Hue Jackson is overjoyed to have a healthy Schillens on the field. “He’s out there making plays, making catches,” started Jackson when asked about his receiver’s health.
“He’s done a tremendous job,” continued Jackson. “He looks like Chaz toward the end of the year. He hasn’t budged from anything. I’m excited that he’s out here every day.”
At 6’4″, the pass catcher provides quarterback Jason Campbell with an easy target to find. He may have lost a little in the speed department, but his toughness and soft hands can more than make up for it. Starter or not, Schillens is just happy to have the opportunity to be on the field.
“I’m just happy to be out here, pretty much,” Schillens told reporters when asked if he had any injury worries. “You guys, if you see me out there running, doing well, then that’s when you can write I’m doing well.” If he plays up to his potential in 2011, that will be quite a bit of writing.
Fortunately for the Raiders, their passing game doesn’t rely on the oft-injured Schillens, and the veteran receiver is well aware of that. “We have Jacoby [Ford], we have Louis [Murphy], we have a lot of talented receivers,” he admitted.
“Whatever I can do, whatever I can mold myself into a role on the field and a role that can help this team win, that’s what I want to do.”
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