OAKLAND, Calif. — Raiders coach Jon Gruden said during the week he planned to “shake things up” at wide receiver to get more production out of the group. Young receiver Rico Gafford was the benefactor with a 49-yard touchdown reception in the Raiders’ 42-21 loss Sunday to the Tennessee Titans.
The reception was the first of Gafford’s career.
Through good scheme and a timely play call, Gafford was wide open down the right sideline. He previously appeared in one game on special teams in 2018 for the Raiders.
“We game-planned it for me to run that play,” Gafford said. “Obviously, we didn’t expect them to leave me wide open. It happened — I just had to make the catch and walk in the end zone.”
Quarterback Derek Carr said he mainly wanted to avoid throwing an inaccurate pass because usually wide receivers aren’t that open.
“I’m glad I didn’t overthrow him,” Carr said.
Despite the loss, Gafford said the play was a special moment for him. He originally entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of Wyoming, signing with Tennessee. When the Titans cut him in September 2018, he landed on the Raiders’ practice squad and has been with the club since.
“I’m excited about it, my first one ever — my first catch ever — against the team that I used to play for,” Gafford said.