Raiders agree to deal with WR Lelie
AP Sports Writer
ALAMEDA ” The Oakland Raiders agreed to terms on a one-year contract with discarded receiver Ashley Lelie on Monday in hopes that the former first-round pick can regain his form and help bolster an inexperienced position group.
Before adding Lelie, they were extremely thin at receiver behind starters Javon Walker and Ronald Curry. With Drew Carter sidelined by a season-ending knee injury, Johnnie Lee Higgins was the only one of Oakland’s three backup receivers who had even played in an NFL game, catching six passes as a rookie.
Lelie, who has 206 receptions in six NFL seasons, could give JaMarcus Russell a deep-play option if he proves he is healthy. He had been cut by the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday after being slowed all preseason by a calf injury.
The Raiders do not need to make a corresponding roster move to make room for Lelie until Wednesday, spokesman John Herrera said.
Lelie signed a two-year, $4.3 million deal with San Francisco last year, including a $2 million signing bonus, but he made little impact on his third NFL team. Lelie had just 10 receptions for 115 yards last season while struggling with injuries including a strained quadriceps, and the former first-round pick never emerged as the deep threat San Francisco needed.
Lelie then missed most of the 49ers’ training camp this season with a strained calf, watching from the sideline as Jason Hill and rookie Josh Morgan moved past him on the depth chart. Lelie played in the 49ers’ exhibition finale against San Diego on Friday night, but didn’t catch a pass in his only preseason action.
He was released on Saturday because of what 49ers coach Mike Nolan called a “durability issue.”
Lelie caught 54 passes for 1,084 yards and seven touchdowns during his best NFL season with Denver in 2004, but hasn’t come close to replicating those numbers since then with the Broncos, the Atlanta Falcons or San Francisco. He has just 80 catches for 1,315 yards and two touchdowns the past three seasons.
Notes: FB Luke Lawton was back at the Raiders’ facility Monday after being released on Saturday. Lawton had four catches in his one preseason game and is expected to be signed Wednesday as a backup to Justin Griffith. The team said he was in for a tryout, but he already had a locker and a uniform. … P Shane Lechler, who has been out with a quadriceps injury, said he expected to punt on Wednesday in practice and should be ready for the game. … S Rashad Baker expected to return to practice Wednesday from an ankle injury.
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Another week on the track and another win for Brad Sweet.