Football / Sports

Raiders receiver Butler looking for preseason success to carry over

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Wide receiver Brice Butler appears poised to make another sizable leap, one year after he overcame long odds and made the Raiders roster despite being a seventh-round draft pick.

Butler leads the Raiders with 11 receptions for 178 yards and three touchdowns through the first three exhibition games. For perspective, Denarius Moore, Rod Streater and Andre Holmes have combined to catch 13 passes for 175 yards and no touchdowns.

"Last year was very similar; he showed up in the preseason games," Raiders coach Dennis Allen said of Butler. "He's done that again this year. He's made progress and he's in a better spot now than he was a year ago at this time."

Butler was just another guy last season, doing enough to make the 53-man roster and earn some playing time early in the season.

He caught nine passes for 103 yards and no touchdowns in 10 games. None of his receptions came after Oakland's sixth game.

"Last year, I hit a wall, mentally and physically," Butler said. "And, obviously, you could see, my game dropped."

Second-year quarterback Matt McGloin traveled a similar path as Butler. He signed as an undrafted free agent, opened eyes with his determined play, made the roster and enjoyed some highs and lows.

"There were periods where I struggled," McGloin said. "That's just part of being a rookie. Obviously, there are no excuses. We're not rookies anymore, so you have to continue to progress. Brice really understands that, and he's brought it every day to practice."

Streater and Moore are the incumbent starters. However, neither has a stronghold on a starting spot this season. Veteran James Jones, brought in as a free agent, and Holmes also figure to get meaningful playing time. Butler has inserted himself into the conversation.

It's not uncommon for players who shine in exhibition games to fade away once the regular season begins and the more experienced players eat up the playing time.

"If you move down the depth chart," Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson said, "it's hard to maintain that focus for a rookie player that comes in out of college that is used to playing all the time."

Yet, Butler is confident that he has a better grasp on what it takes to be a consistent player.

For that, he credits offseason workouts with standout NFL receivers Calvin Johnson and A.J. Green, among others, in Atlanta.

"I would say the talent has always been there," Butler said, "but mentally " just picking their brains and figuring out what they think, how they think, how they run routes, the tricks of the trade. I just got better mentally."

(c)2014 The Oakland Tribune (Oakland, Calif.)

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