Keon Hatcher: "Just keep your head down and keep working"

Keon Hatcher spent the Saturday of his Labor Day Weekend waiting, and then waiting some more, counting down the minutes to 1:00 PM.

And oddly enough, as he waited to learn some of the biggest information of his life, he ironically hoped that his phone didn't ring.

While other people were enjoying the holiday weekend, or just soaking up a little, well-deserved down time before the start of the NFL regular season, Hatcher and a buddy sat at home, looking at the clock as it ticked closer and closer to 1:00 P.M.

Noon came and went, as did 12:30, but still, the former undrafted free agent's phone didn't light up.

"Then it's like 20 [minutes] left, and that call never comes, and you're like, man, we did it, so it's definitely a blessing," Hatcher explained Monday.

After speaking with his agent, confirming that he was indeed one of the 53 men to make the Oakland Raiders final roster, Hatcher called his parents, and basked in a moment a long time coming for the 24-year-old wideout.

"I'm like, man, I'm still in shock," Hatcher said he told his parents. "I expected for it to happen, but now that it's finally here, it's just crazy. It's a blessing."

After hauling in just two catches in the Silver and Black's first three preseason games, Hatcher made the most of his 48 offensive snaps against the Seahawks, putting together a career day, hauling in eight catches for 128 yards and three touchdowns in the team's preseason finale.

And according to Head Coach Jon Gruden, that Thursday performance at CenturyLink is essentially what won Hatcher one of the Raiders six wide receiver spots.

"I probably would've got thrown out of the airplane if we did not keep Keon after that game," Gruden joked. "But he kept our eye. He had a great offseason. He's under the radar. He's undrafted. Practice squad a year ago. Caught a lot of touchdown passes at Arkansas. But when you put him in a game, he converts third downs. He can make big plays. We're happy to have him aboard."

"I can't even explain it, all God is what I can say," Hatcher added when discussing his outing in Seattle. "It was all him. It was a blur, but definitely all Him. I mean, the first play, the first touchdown, just me rolling then landing on my feet, keeping it going, how? How does that happen? All ups to God, and [thankful] for him giving me this opportunity and being with me through it all."

Although Hatcher was undoubtedly the team's offensive MVP against the Seahawks, the flight back to the Bay Area – less than 48 hours away from roster reductions – was one filled with uncertainty for the former Arkansas Razorback.

"You never know with this business, with the numbers, man," Hatcher recounted. "It's a crazy business. Just praying, just praying, hoping I made it, having that faith, believing that I was going to be here, and it looks like I'm here."

Give Hatcher his due; after spending his first NFL season on the practice squad, he made the most of the opportunities the new coaching staff gave him, and on the heels of the preseason finale – where he was a solid contributor on special teams too – Hatcher now has one of the 53 coveted spots on the active roster.

"I've always been one of the guys overlooked, it's normal," Hatcher said. "Just keep your head down, and keep working, and that's what I continue to do, and just have to keep elevating each and every year."

Now though, after months of fighting for a roster spot he has now secured, Hatcher, as well as the rest of the Raiders wide receivers have to prepare for a Monday night opener against one of the best secondaries in the NFL.

"You have to be ready to go," Hatcher said. "It's either going to be your or somebody else, and you don't want it to be somebody else going, so yeah, you have to stay sharp, stay mentally and physically prepared, just go out there and do what you do."

The Raiders and Los Angeles Rams will play in the nightcap of Week 1; kickoff is scheduled for 7:20 P.M. on Monday.

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