ALAMEDA -- When Matt Schaub had his fifth consecutive strong season for the Houston Texans in 2012, tight ends caught 124 passes for 1,309 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Tight ends were a big part of the Schaub passing game every season, with Owen Daniels and Joel Dreessen doing much of the damage. So when Schaub was traded to the Raiders earlier this year, Oakland tight end hopeful David Ausberry took notice.

"He's tight end-friendly, so that's pretty good for us," Ausberry said Monday as the Raiders began their second week of organized team activities. "When you watch the film, he likes to use tight ends, he likes to use the middle of the field, and we'll be there for him."

Exactly who will be there is unclear. Ausberry, who went on injured reserve Sept. 23 and eventually had shoulder surgery, has been getting first-team looks with second-year player Mychal Rivera. Second-year player Nick Kasa and Brian Leonhardt, a practice squad player last season, are also in the mix.

Although the Raiders remade much of their roster, they didn't add any free agent tight ends and did not re-sign Jeron Mastrud, primarily a blocker. Coach Dennis Allen conceded it wasn't entirely by design.

Daniels, a Schaub target in Houston, signed with the Baltimore Ravens, and other tight ends also found deals elsewhere.


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"It's sort of like when you go sit on Santa Claus' lap," Allen said of free agency. "You ask for a bunch of stuff, you get about half of it. That's kind of where we're at. I feel good about having some young guys at tight end, and we're going to need those guys to step up."

  • Charles Woodson spent the majority of the 2013 season as a single deep safety by necessity. When strong safety Tyvon Branch left with a broken ankle and inexperienced Brandian Ross became a starter, defensive coordinator Jason Tarver was most comfortable with Woodson patrolling the back end.

    It forced the Raiders to go away from putting Woodson in pass rushing situations and playing him at different spots, a style that helped him flourish into a Hall of Fame candidate with the Green Bay Packers.

    Woodson said he's working on being a better deep safety -- new secondary coach Marcus Robertson has helped in that regard -- but is ready for anything.

    "There's no question I'm going to get better," Woodson said. "As far as moving around and doing different things, that will be up to the coaches. I definitely can. We'll see how that progresses."

  • Cornerback DJ Hayden, his right foot in a boot, did not practice because of an ankle injury. He was joined by running back Latavius Murray, linebacker Kevin Burnett, defensive tackle Antonio Smith and guard Lucas Nix as players who were present but did not practice.

    Allen said none of the injuries are expected to be long-term.

  • On a day of heavy red zone work, Schaub was adept at moving within the pocket and allowing receivers to break free for end zone strikes, hitting Andre Holmes, Ausberry and Greg Little for touchdowns.

    Allen said quarterbacks "don't have to be great athletes, but they have to have a pocket presence ... and be able to slide and maneuver in the pocket ... I think Matt has some of those qualities."

  • Wide receiver Juron Criner is in a sink or swim situation in his third season with the addition of James Jones and Little plus the presence of Rod Streater, Holmes and Denarius Moore. Criner had a particularly good day catching the ball.

  • The Raiders are in discussions with the Dallas Cowboys for joint practices to be held in Oxnard, Allen said. Dates and times have not been determined, although it's believed it will be leading into the second preseason game.

    The Raiders last held joint practices with the 49ers in 2008 and 2009 in Napa the week preceding their preseason game. Oakland also practiced with the Texans in Houston before a 2005 preseason game.

    Dallas and Oakland practiced in Austin in 1997 and held a scrimmage at the Sun Bowl in El Paso in 1998.

    For more on the Raiders, visit the Inside the Oakland Raiders blog at ibabuzz.com/oaklandraiders. Follow Jerry McDonald on Twitter at twitter.com/Jerrymcd.