HENDERSON, Nev. — Josh McDaniels said Tuesday he was “super excited” to see what Hunter Renfrow does this year, and that sounds swell. But … based on what the Raiders coach said about Derek Carr last season and then Darren Waller just weeks before the Raiders traded him in March, let’s not all go draft Renfrow in fantasy just yet.
Renfrow, like Carr and Waller, signed an extension with the new regime of McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler prior to last season. Of the three, the slot receiver is the last man standing, as Carr was cut and signed by the Saints and Waller is dominating Giants camp.
Renfrow said Friday after practice that he was miserable last season. The adjustment to McDaniels’ offense was tough. His role was smaller. Then, injuries forced him to miss seven games and he was held to 36 catches for 330 yards and two touchdowns — that after pulling down 103 receptions for 1,038 yards and nine touchdowns in 2021. Then Carr, one of his closest friends, was benched with two games left and ended his nine-year Raiders career on bad terms.
Renfrow only blames himself for last season, saying he feels like he let his teammates down.
“That’s something that left a bad taste in my mouth and something that I want to get over and prove to them … that I’m a guy they can count on and just go and be consistent,” Renfrow said.
🔴🎥 Live: Jakobi Meyers, Daniel Carlson, Andre James and Hunter Renfrow address the media from the Intermountain Health Performance Center. https://t.co/8VBDyhwZ2t
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) July 28, 2023
There have been trade rumors aplenty this offseason, and some believe the Raiders drafted a slot receiver (Tre Tucker) and signed others (DeAndre Carter and Phillip Dorsett) in free agency for a reason. The 27-year-old Renfrow does count $13.1 million against the cap this season.
Renfrow was asked to dispel the narrative that he can’t flourish in McDaniels’ offense.
“I am practicing hard and trying to,” he said. “I think all of us out there are.”
And what’s his response to the trade rumors?
“Just have fun every day and control what I can control,” he said. “I didn’t have a lot of fun last year, and so that’s my big thing. Find ways to have fun.”
Renfrow did say he is now more comfortable in McDaniels’ system. On Thursday, he received some loud applause from fans in attendance for a diving catch on a deep Brian Hoyer pass.
(The quarterback play has been highly erratic so far in camp, especially Friday when Jimmy Garoppolo was getting a scheduled day off from practice.)
“Just from the verbiage and going through these first few days of camp, these first few installs, everything is so much more smooth, so much more familiar,” Renfrow said. “And the guys are familiar, the coaching staff’s familiar …. So I feel like I’m in a lot better place than I was this time last year.”
Renfrow did try and battle through last season, and McDaniels said that he appreciated that.
“Any time you have a player who battles through a bunch of injuries like Hunter did last year and the stuff that prevented him from being on the field, you have some extra motivation as a coach to see it through and make sure that he comes back and has the type of season he’s capable of having,” McDaniels said. “He’s ready to go. He’s healthy, had a good offseason.
“We can’t predict anything, but I know what Hunter is capable of. I know what he means to our team. I know how excited he is to perform well and try to help us win, and that’s what we’re geared toward, too.”
Renfrow said his talks with McDaniels and Ziegler this offseason have been positive and said, “Hopefully, I can prove them right for signing me.”
His good friends Carr and Foster Moreau are gone, but Renfrow spoke highly of Garoppolo — “He’s steady and consistent,” he said, “and a leader and a great guy in the locker room” — and is looking forward to showing his mettle this season.
Picking the brain of teammate Davante Adams every day in practice also can’t hurt.
Renfrow said it all comes down to fundamentals with Davante Adams: pic.twitter.com/dhSAy85Ty9
— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) July 28, 2023
“I’m hoping last year was a fluke,” Renfrow said. “I’d like to think I’ve been playing at a decent level at Clemson for four or five years, and then four or five years here. So I didn’t want to get all scared all of a sudden and think I had to do all this and change who I am.”
(Photo: John Locher / Associated Press)
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