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Rivera Establishing Himself


TE Mychal Rivera makes one of his two touchdown catches against the Seattle Seahawks. Photo by Tony Gonzales

Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks was one that tight end Mychal Rivera won't soon forget.

The second-year player enjoyed a season-high eight receptions, and his two touchdowns helped keep the Raiders in the game until the very last minute after falling behind the Seahawks early.

"That's what we are; we're fighters," said Rivera. "We buried ourselves in a hole with turnovers and other stuff, but no matter what happens in the game, it's a 60-minute game and you have to fight the whole way."

After wrapping up his collegiate career at Tennessee, Rivera quickly established himself as a receiving threat during his 2013 rookie season, leading all Raiders rookies with 38 receptions and four touchdowns, which was also good for second on the entire team.

Through the first part of 2014, Rivera hadn't found the same type of success on the stat sheet; however, he still found ways to contribute on the offensive side of the ball.

"I tell people all the time, with the tight end position especially, it's not really about the stat sheet sometimes," he said. "You can have a great game blocking and that will be in the rushing and the running back department. I'm here for the team and I'm all in for the team."

While he may not have been a focal point of the offense the first six games of the season, Rivera never lost confidence in himself or his abilities, and kept his focus on what he could control.

"The ball rolls different ways sometimes in the game," Rivera said. "When the opportunities come, no matter where it is in the game, you have to make sure you make those opportunities count."

And over the duration of the past two games he has done just that, hauling in 15 receptions and finding the end zone twice, both in short-yardage situations. "We got that close and we had a couple of great plays to run," he said when asked about his recent goal-line success. "Coach Oly [Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson] called some really good plays and we executed them great."

So what accounts for his recent surge in productivity?

While Rivera can't put his finger on just one reason, his increased chemistry with rookie Derek Carr definitely plays a role in him seeing the football headed in his direction more.

"He's throwing me the ball, so I like that," River said with a smile. "Hopefully we can continue this, and we can continue the good chemistry."

Interim Head Coach Tony Sparano is happy with the production he has received lately from his young tight end. "Mychal is contributing a lot," Coach Sparano said. "He's done a nice job that way. He made two great catches [in the game], they were really hard catches that he made and that's in a contested environment which I thought was really good to see. We need that out of Mychal."

While Rivera has now reemerged as an aerial threat for the Oakland offense, he is still working on improving his blocking so that he can become the complete package at tight end.

"I'm getting better every day at that," said Rivera. "Coach Sparano is putting me in positions to be able to block on the back side, on the front side and do movements and motions, so we're developing really good."

Regardless of whether Rivera is targeted once or 10 times in a game, the talented tight end is determined to come to work with the same attitude and put forth his best effort at all times.

"I come in to work every day with a passion," he said. "I'm lucky to be in the NFL. I'm lucky to do what I do, and we all are."

He continued, "That's the mindset we have and we're focused on trying to get a win, but at the same time, you have to count your blessings and know where you are in life."

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