Raiders hail Michael Crabtree as “great leader,” “game-changer”

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The Raiders have a supremely talented young receiver in Amari Cooper.

And while Michael Crabtree used to be the guy who got described that way, he’s now becoming known as something more important — clutch.

The veteran wide receiver’s third touchdown reception yesterday was the game-winner against the Ravens, following his game-winning two-point conversion in New Orleans and his emergence as quarterback Derek Carr’s go-to target throughout the season.

He has been a great leader for us,” Raiders coach Del Rio said, via Scott Bair of CSNBayArea.com. “There were questions brought up [about that]. That hasn’t been part of what we’re getting. We’re getting a guy who is a great teammate, who works hard every day and is very friendly for our quarterback.”

Crabtree signed with the Raiders in the 2015 season as sort of damaged goods from his days in San Francisco. But it didn’t take him long to find a home on the other side of the bay, and earn a contract extension and a rapport with his young quarterback.

“When he became a free agent after my rookie year, and he came to visit us, I tried everything I could to make sure he left our building a Raider,” Carr said. “I know the kind of talent he is. I’m so thankful that he chose to stay in the Bay Area. The guy is a game-changer, and one of the best receivers in this league. . . .

“I didn’t promise him catches or touchdowns, but I said that, if we worked hard and grew together, we could do something special.”

They’re in the midst of doing that now, with three road wins on the season, and only a home loss to the Falcons blemishing their record.