What to do about Chaz?


The body of Raiders wide receiver Chaz Schilens has been like a game of Whack-A-Mole. As soon as one injury is put away, another pops up.

The latest, according to coach Tom Cable, is that just as Schilens was recovering from his mysterious knee surgery which kept him out all season, his foot began acting up.

The same foot that he broke during training camp in 2009 while simply running a pass pattern and caused him to miss the first eight games of the season.

Naturally, the angry tweets and comments are flowing. Dump the bum. What good is he?

It amuses me in the sense that people get so involved with their team they have no problem in trashing the character of someone they don’t know along with coming to an analysis that could possibly be the right one _ it’s just not going to happen for Schilens.

A couple of points:

— Schilens has zero control over this. Maybe he’s a professional caliber athlete trapped in a bad body. I’m guessing he feels a lot worse than anyone tearing him to shreds.

— Unless his contract has been altered since he signed, and there’s no reason to think it has been, he’s being paid $470,000 this year. The guy was a seventh-round draft pick _ and lasted that long in part because of durability issues at San Diego State.

There was a certain amount of risk involved with taking Schilens at all, and the Raiders got him at a very low price.

— Take a look at every roster in the NFL and look at the corps of wide receivers. Everyone’s got a project, someone who doesn’t play, who’s been hurt, but has intriguing potential.

The reason Schilens is an issue is that he’s shown so much promise in the limited amount of time he’s played _ again, not his fault _ and because the Raiders are awful at wide receiver as a group and have been for years. The club actually put out a press release last year trumpeting Schilens’ return to the practice field, which probably hasn’t happened in the history of seventh-round draft picks.

The Miami Dolphins can find a kid who grew up dreaming of playing in the Coliseum that cloned himself after Tim Brown in Davone Bess and the Raiders don’t give him the time of day. He has 179 catches since 2008. I’m guessing many of you are wondering if Darrius Heyward-Bey will ever get that many.

Amazing that the team that had the ultimate set of hands in Fred Biletnikoff doesn’t seem to value the whole process of catching the ball as much as it does 40-yard dash times, vertical stretch ability, etc.

The reason Schilens invokes frustration is that here is a guy the Raiders have that actually can jump and catch. He goes after the ball and secures it. He actually fits the job description in the most basic way.

And his body won’t let him.

He’s a 50-50 prospect because of injuries yet Al Davis has such trouble targeting wide receivers in recent years Schilens is viewed as a savior for the gang that couldn’t catch straight.

For what it’s worth, Schilens (unless his contract has changed) is under contract through next year and scheduled to make $555,000. The wage of a reserve.

Still worth a gamble on most teams because if he ever happens to get healthy it’s a bargain, but maybe a luxury on a team that can’t find reliable receivers.


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer