OXNARD — Jessie Hester, the Raiders' No. 1 draft choice, made the unofficial opening day lineup Thursday. Such calls are subject to recall, but it will take some kind of reversal.
"The way things are going, he's got a good chance (to start)," Coach Tom Flores said. "He's getting plenty of experience.
"One thing about it, he's played against some of the best teams. He played against San Francisco's No. 1s (three catches). He played against the Redskins' No. 1s (three, plus a 56-yarder for a touchdown that was called back). He'll get a chance to play against Miami's No. 1, (William) Judson.
"You're always going to be concerned a little (starting a rookie). Preseason is one thing. You're playing a quarter or a half. All of a sudden you're in it. This time it counts. The intensity can be so overwhelming. Those things can do a job on your mind if you're not mature enough.
"Jessie is the first receiver we ever drafted and put in the same spot (that Cliff Branch has held). He has some similarities to Cliff. Cliff had talent but he worked hard. He was not a natural receiver. Jessie is much more polished at the same stage. But Jessie is not as fast as Cliff. Cliff was a blur.
"What does Jessie need to work on? He just needs to play and get experience. He looks fairly frail but Cliff was no heavyweight, either. He'll wind up weighing what Cliff did (170)."
Sooner or later, he figured to wind up in Cliff's place, too. Now it looks like sooner.
Raider Notes Tom Flores says he'll probably keep four wide receivers. "I can't see having five," he said. "We'll probably have four plus Cle Montgomery." Montgomery also returns punts and is working as a reserve running back. . . . Unless there's an upset, the four will be Dokie Williams, Malcolm Barnwell, Jessie Hester, and Tim Moffett, with Cliff Branch going on injured reserve.