The Oakland Raiders have announced the signing of wide receiver Marcell Ateman to the active roster while subsequently releasing wide receiver J.J. Nelson heading into their bye in Week 6 of the 2019 NFL season.
The Raiders have managed to bring in a new potential weapon for quarterback Derek Carr with the acquisition of Zay Jones from the Buffalo Bills in exchange for a fifth-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. In order to make room for Jones, the front office had decided to initially waive Ateman before bringing him back on board.
The former seventh-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft started this season on the practice squad for the first four games. He was promoted to the active roster ahead of their 24-21 victory over the Chicago Bears in London to help shore up some depth to the receiving corps.
Ateman played on 28 of 73 offensive snaps against Chicago, however, he was not targeted a single time by Carr in the passing game. He is now hoping to find his footing within the offense during the extra time granted by the bye before Oakland hits the road to take on the Green Bay Packers in Week 7.
Meanwhile, Nelson’s brief tenure with the Raiders was rather underwhelming. His best performance came during their Week 3 loss against the Minnesota Vikings after he caught four passes for 36 yards and his first receiving touchdown of the season. Unfortunately, injuries have played a part in his inability to etch out an integral role in the passing game.
Oakland also announced that guard Lester Cotton Sr. will be taking Ateman’s spot on the practice squad. The undrafted rookie out of Alabama will have an opportunity to provide some potential insurance along their offensive line moving forward.
The lack of firepower in their passing attack has become well-prevalent this season as they rank in the bottom-10 in yards per game in this department (213.8). As a result, the Raiders have had to rely heavily on their ground game behind running back Josh Jacobs, which is top-10 in the league in yards per game (134.4).
Although head coach Jon Gruden is not shy about expressing his affinity regarding a run-heavy approach, they will need to do what they can to usher in some more balance on offense or risk becoming one-dimensional in the eyes of opposing defenses. Given the current state of the receiving corps, Jones and Ateman could have an opportunity to help lead a potential resurgence for this group.