Chaz Schilens was somewhat of an afterthought in 2008 when the Raiders drafted him in the seventh round of the NFL draft. He had been injured his senior season at San Diego State, the Raiders had already signed Javon Walker for the season, and Arman Shields was drafted by the team in the fourth round of the same draft. On top of all that, he’d have to compete with two other receivers drafted (Johnnie Lee Higgins and Jonathan Holland) in the 2007 draft.
Long shot would have been an understatement.
During his first training camp, there were stories that his position coach James Lofton often reprimanded him for various mistakes, yet when the 53-man roster was announced, Schilens was on it.
In Schilens’ rookie season, he played in all 16 games, had 15 receptions for 226 yards and two receiving touchdowns. The lack of a passing game for the Raiders in 2008 prompted the team to draft a receiver in the first round and then draft another in the fourth, therefore Schilens would have even more competition going into the ’09 season.
Throughout the ’09 training camp Schilens shined. He was easily the best receiver in camp and was slotted as an important player on the Raiders’ offense this season. Unfortunately for Schilens, he broke a bone in his foot after the first preseason game in which he caught five passes for 52 yards–one-third the production of his entire rookie season.
It’s been rough. I mean, I’ve been wanting to get out there and help in any way I can, but I have to be patient and know when it’s my time then I can help. But really right now, other than moral support and anything I can help out the other receivers with studying-wise, I can’t really do much. It’ll be my time. When it is, then I’ll be ready.
– Schilens on how tough it has been to sit the first part of the season.
After getting surgery to repair the broken bone and six weeks of rehab, Schilens is preparing for a comeback of sorts–albeit it won’t be this weekend when the Raiders host the Broncos. His original date back was supposed to be week two, but that didn’t happen. “They wanted to make sure that the bone had healed and had sealed with a screw and that everything was set,” Schilens said when asked about it. “I still had a little pain in there, and they wanted to make sure it went away, and it’s gone now, so that’s why they started to let me jog a little bit. It’s feeling good.”
The new goal is a return date of week four when the Raiders will play the Houston Texans. When he comes back, there will be a logjam at Schilens’ spot. Louis Murphy has performed well in his place, which could pose problems for head coach Tom Cable. Asked if he knows what will happen when he comes back, Schilens said, “I really can’t tell. They’ll put the best guys out there. I really don’t know. Louis is a great player, he deserves to be out there. So we’ll see. Don’t really know. Feel like the best receivers will be out there, though.”
Whenever Schilens gets back, he’ll be ready to be the go-to-guy he was projected to be before the injury. “Shoot, once I get my legs back and everything’s good, and run a couple routes, I’m sure after a couple days I’ll be right back to where I need to be at,” Schilens said when asked how long it will take to get back to form. “It might take a few practices, but I don’t see anything being a real problem. I’ve stayed watching the offense, and I’ve been studying, paying attention as well as I can, so I really don’t feel like I should have too much of a drop-off.“