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Growing pains have not slowed down Michael Mayer

The first day in pads for rookie tight end Michael Mayer was an eye-opening experience. Or in his words, an embarrassing experience.

The second-round pick, fresh off being a superstar All-American at Notre Dame, found himself in a difficult situation – blocking one of the best edge rushers in the league, Maxx Crosby. In college, Mayer found success as a blocker to compliment his stellar route running and catching abilities. However, there's a bit of a talent jump between blocking in college and blocking a guy like Crosby.

Regardless of how tough things got that practice, the persistence to keep lining up against him was visible.

"[M]y technique was all over the place. I hadn't been hit in four, five, six months," Mayer said. "And he showed it and I got embarrassed. And I think that was definitely my 'welcome to the NFL moment.' From there, I'm just trying to get better, trying to learn from it. I've gotten extremely better just going against Maxx in practice every single day. He's bringing it, I'm trying to bring in as much as I can, and I know it's going to help me this season and in the long run."

Mayer is still extremely early in his NFL career, but his progress can be tracked from when he first stepped into the Raiders practice facility. Head Coach Josh McDaniels almost chuckled when asked to recall the rookie's rough introduction into the NFL on the hot Nevada day.

"You can't really be physically tough unless you're mentally tough. He had an experience that some would call it fun, some would call it educational, some would call it not so good," McDaniels said of that first padded practice. "But that's part of the NFL, you go through it. I would rather it happen in a practice than a game. I thought his response that day was really good. Didn't let it get him down. ... He's really resilient, tough and has had a great attitude since he's been here."

"Tight end is a tough position to play right off the bat and do everything the way it needs to be done at a winning level," McDaniels added. "You have to run block, pass protect, run routes, get open, difference between man and zone. ... There's a lot of things that go into that. He's working at it, making progress every day.

Mayer has embraced those intricacies McDaniels detailed as to what makes a great tight end. The Raiders head coach has found success with various tight ends throughout his coaching career including Rob Gronkowski, Benjamin Watson, Martellus Bennett and Jonnu Smith. The rookie could find similar success in this offense if he continues to "be a sponge."

"Here, there is a lot more that goes into it," Mayer said on learning McDaniels' offense. "There's checks, there's alerts, there's things like that, reloads, and so it's just about repetition for me. If I fail at it, alright cool, I'm going to go back and do it again until I get it. And that's kind of my mindset. That's my mentality as of right now. We've got one more preseason game left and so I'm really trying to wrap my mind around this offense and really get it down before the season starts."

As Mayer alluded to, he has one more preseason game before the real thing Week 1 against the Denver Broncos. In his first NFL action against the Los Angeles Rams last Saturday, he had one reception on the Raiders' opening drive. With every rep, his ultimate goal is continuing to reach new heights and become the best version of himself.

"I think at the end of the day, it's just me coming to the facility every single day and trying to play the best ball I can play. Do whatever they're asking me to do, come in and improve as much as I can and everything will work out.

"They know what I can do, and I know what I can do."

Head inside Intermountain Health Performance Center for exclusive photos of the Silver and Black's Training Camp practice.

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