Paul Gutierrez, ESPN Staff Writer 15d

Johnny Holton making the most of his chances for Derek Carr, Raiders

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Johnny Holton has made a habit of coming out of nowhere to surprise people.

After all, this is a guy who was essentially discovered by a junior college coach while playing flag football in a neighborhood park in his native Miami.

So Holton, who joined the Oakland Raiders as an undrafted rookie last year, making the most of his limited opportunities should come as no surprise. Even the fact that both of his catches this season have resulted in long, highlight-reel touchdowns.

"What's going through my mind is I've got to make a play," Holton said. "Every time I come in, I've just got to make a play for the team to help us win. Any way I can."

At the Denver Broncos on Oct. 1, Holton blew through the No Fly Zone secondary in the second quarter and hauled in Derek Carr's pass for a 64-yard touchdown on an over-the-shoulder grab.

Sunday night at the Miami Dolphins, running essentially the same go-route to the right pylon, Holton outran Reshad Jones to Carr's pass for a 44-yard score.

"He makes it too easy," Holton said of Carr. "I got off the line and he just put the ball right there."

Two catches. Two TDs. 108 yards.

"When he first got here, we saw him run," Carr said of Holton. "I think we were watching film and we saw him take off running on a clear route to help someone else get open. We were like, 'Golly, who is this guy?' We started asking questions like, 'What's this guy's name?' Trying to figure him out."

Holton has been a work in progress as a pass catcher, no doubt. Anytime he came on the field last year, it seemed as though a reverse run was coming his way.

Carr recalled one of the first balls he ever threw Holton. It did not go well.

"I don't know if it touched his hands," Carr said with a laugh. "Right after that day I was like, 'Man, this poor guy has all of this juice, speed, and oh, man, I don't know.' The next day he just came out and started balling. Catching the ball and running routes, like double-move routes. He wasn't just a straight-line guy. We started seeing like, 'Hey man, this guy has something to him.'

"Then we get to training camp and I'll never forget, I hit him on a post corner. A big [gain] for like 70 yards. He took off and it wasn't even close. It was that moment right there I was like, 'This guy is going to make the team and be special.'"

Holton is the Raiders' No. 5 receiver, behind Amari Cooper, with whom he grew up in the Miami area, Michael Crabtree, Seth Roberts and Cordarrelle Patterson. But Holton, who played his junior college ball at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, before transferring to Cincinnati, has also made a name for himself as a gunner on the punt team.

His coverage against the New York Jets in Week 2 forced a muffed punt by Kalif Raymond. Holton recovered the fumble at the Jets’ 4-yard line.

In Miami, though, the Coconut Grove High School graduate's play was made even more special by the homecoming feel to it. He bought 110 tickets for friends and family, which was the reasoning behind his epic touchdown celebration dance, a hopping move that looked like Peter Cottontail bounding down the bunny trail before jumping on a pogo stick with one leg up to finish the journey.

Holton called it The Drop.

"I had to do the dance for them," he said.

"We always practice, you know, I get a couple plays here and there, and when I come into games, I've just got to make the plays count."

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