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Raiders Mailbag: Will the offense continue feeding Michael Mayer, Zamir White the ball?

David Fairbanks asks:

"With our TE Michael Mayer seeing more targets in the Green Bay and New England games, will this continue going forward?"

Everything points to Michael Mayer seeing a higher volume moving forward.

It starts with the progression he's made as a player. The rookie tight end took his lumps in Training Camp and preseason, being introduced to competing against NFL talent on a daily basis. Despite his early trials and tribulations, he continues to be given opportunities to improve and has started four games.

After having one catch for two yards in his first four NFL games, he exploded on the scene the last two weeks, looking more like the record breaker he was at Notre Dame. Along with his evolving role in pass protection, he's gained 114 receiving yards on seven catches combined in Weeks 5 and 6. He was also nominated for the Week 6 Pepsi Rookie of the Week.

"I think Hoop [Austin Hooper] and Mike [Michael Mayer] both contributed the last few weeks significantly," Josh McDaniels said Wednesday morning. "They're right in the middle of defense, so when there's somebody – whether it's a back, receiver or a tight end – that's contributing right in the middle of the field, you have to pay some attention to that. They're hard to tackle. There's two big guys running with the ball. You get the ball in their hands, you have an opportunity to make some yards."

Jeremy Jones asks:

"What happened to Jimmy and who's going to be the QB this week?"

Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a back injury Sunday against the New England Patriots, forcing him out of action in the second half.

While Garoppolo "dodged a bullet" on any internal injuries, McDaniels stated it's still unknown if he'll be able to suit up against the Bears. As the medical team evaluates his health, the coaching staff will evaluate Brian Hoyer and Aidan O'Connell in practice to see who will earn the start if Garoppolo can't suit up.

"We don't even have everything we need yet to make that determination. But the fact that we've played three guys already certainly doesn't hurt," McDaniels said. "It's not ideal in terms of what you want to do. But they both got game experience, they both have had to operate our offense in critical situations in close games."

Both Hoyer and O'Connell have shown they can produce if their number is called. Hoyer went 6-of-10 for 102 yards against the Patriots, with a 48-yard dime to Tre Tucker that is the longest pass play of the season for the Raiders. O'Connell saw his first NFL start against the Chargers in Week 4, throwing for 239 yards with a rushing touchdown.

Benjamin Bueno asks:

"Why not keep defenses off balance and bring in Zeus for a series here and there?"

That's a "bueno" idea if you ask me.

From what we saw last Sunday, using Zamir White more could be the norm moving forward. There's no question Josh Jacobs is among the best running backs in the league, however the running game is still ramping up this season. Currently the 2022 rushing king is averaging 52 yards a game, a career-low. As the team tries to maximize on rushing the ball, White's snaps have seen an uptick. Against the New England Patriots, he also contributed in the passing game with two catches.

"Really pleased and proud of the way Zamir has been playing, and I think his role has been growing each week," offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi said Tuesday. "I thought Zamir's done a great job of doing his job. Run play may not be there in terms of holes, he sticks his foot in the ground and gets vertical for positive yards. He's done a better job of that each week, and he's done a very nice job of just playing off of JJ [Josh Jacobs] on early downs, which he'll continue to do."

Head inside Intermountain Health Performance Center to view the best photos from Wednesday's practice.

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