ALAMEDA -- Brian Leonhardt has come so far that he is finally on a first-name basis with Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson.
Until last week, Olson called Leonhardt "Bemidji" in reference to his having attended Bemidji State University in Minnesota. Other times it was "Bemeedge," which is a mispronunciation, although Leonhardt conceded, "I'm not in any position to correct him."
With Leonhardt thrust into getting work with the first-team offense at tight end because of David Ausberry's knee injury and a lack of experience at the position, Olson actually dropped a "Brian" on him during a meeting.
"I think it was the first time he used my actual name," Leonhardt said.
The Raiders are looking for an in-line tight end to pair with Mychal Rivera, who is listed as a tight end but more often than not is flexed outside, lines up in the backfield or goes in motion.
Leonhardt caught three passes during practice Sunday, and in three seasons at Bemidji State caught 112 passes for 1,431 yards and 15 touchdowns. Still, he is clear on his role.
"I was the leading receiver in three of my four years in college, but my strength was always blocking," Leonhardt said. "In high school we ran a split-back veer, and all I did was block."
Jeron Mastrud, who played in all 16 games for the Raiders last season as the in-line tight end and started 12, had only six catches for 88 yards.
The Raiders waived Leonhardt last year after training camp but signed him to the practice squad, where he remained all season.
"I've seen constant improvement from him every day," Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. "From his first day here, to now, I mean's he's grown by leaps and bounds."
With two preseason games to play and the Raiders having the ability to look for a veteran tight end before the cutdown to 53 men, Leonhardt is not looking too far ahead, imagining himself on the field Sept. 7 against the New York Jets.
"I'm trying to do everything I can each day to get better," Leonhardt said. "What I'm happy about is the things I wanted to improve on after the first preseason game were better in the second one."
Quarterback Derek Carr, defensive tackle Justin Ellis and defensive tackle Matt McCants sat out while recovering from concussions. Wide receiver Juron Criner is out with a hip injury.
"You've got to read into it a little bit," Woodson said. "We started those games slow and allowed teams to go down the field and put up points. ... We're not circling the wagons or anything like that. We'll be all right."
FRIDAY'S EXHIBITION GAME
Raiders (1-1) at Green Bay (1-1), 5 p.m. CBS