Derek Carr preparing to start Sunday

Derek Carr‘s injury is one that won’t prevent him from starting this Sunday against the Ravens.

Oakland’s quarterback injured his right hand while throwing a stiff arm to Bengals defensive back Adam Jones, a decision he made in the heat of the moment while trying to pick up a crucial third down early in the game.

It’s a decision that earned him more respect from players and coaches, but one that the same group doesn’t want to see again. By Wednesday, Carr was showing few ill effects from the sprained right thumb area.

Said Carr:

“It isn’t 100 percent, but it’s pretty close. Again, I’m not going to hurt our team and I’m not going to hurt myself further when it’s only the first week and go out there and try to make it worse. We all felt it was good enough; the coaches, training staff, the doctors, that I could go out there today.”

The play was one which Carr calls “spur of the moment,” and displayed his competitiveness in a game where excitement was in full force.

Once the season starts officially, guys want to make plays. Carr, fairly low-key off the field, is a fierce competitor and it took a lot for him to stay on the sidelines. So it speaks to reason that it was concerning that he didn’t return.

How concerned was he? Carr said:

“Big time. It takes a lot for me not to go back in there. I knew when I tried to grab that ball and throw it to coach Moore on the sideline, that something wasn’t right. I just had to make sure that I could take a snap. If I couldn’t open up my hand enough to take a snap, I’m not going to help us.”

Carr noted that Oakland’s opener against the New York Jets last season, his first NFL start, came with a similar level of excitement.

And that everything began to settle down with every game. The quarterback got into a rhythm and became acquainted with his team.

The injury came at a crucial point in the game for the Raiders, who were already behind, but not by any margin they couldn’t come back from.

Carr was “throwing fastballs” because he was too pumped up, the drive and energy becoming a minor adversary.

Said Carr:

“You’re just so excited to play the game and you’re out there and it matters now, those types of thing. As the game went on, the series I got hurt in actually I was feeling good, seeing it fine, felt good throwing it and then bam it happened. That’s just what’s going to happen. I definitely felt good after those first couple of drives.”

The Raiders were struggling on offense against a solid team. The ground game hadn’t begun clicking, the air attack was filled with mistakes, overthrows, bad reads and miscommunication.

Running back Latavius Murray says he was one of the players who also felt a surge of excitement that he says, needs to be corralled:

“I think it was a lot of excitement. That definitely could have been the case. I think it’s important that we settle ourself down and get to playing ball the way we know how to play. Calm down, and make the plays, make the throws.”

With the lack of offense, Oakland fell behind quickly. Bengals running back Jeremy Hill gashed the Raiders defense for chunk yardage and then some. And despite Raiders cornerback T.J. Carrie handling the coverage of superstar receiver A.J. Green with relative ease, Cincinnati tight end Tyler Eifert found huge holes in Oakland’s defense.

And the Raiders couldn’t run it much after that. Head coach Jack Del Rio said:

“I’d like to see it go up. Yeah, I’d like to see it go up. But we have to earn that. Convert some on third downs, have more possessions. I don’t feel like we totally abandoned it, but I don’t feel like we effectively did what we set out to do.”

Perhaps a sizable understatement — Oakland didn’t score once until the Bengals were up 33-0.

Other injuries

Safety Charles Woodson (shoulder) did not practice, the same goes for defensive tackle Justin Ellis (ankle). The two starters are big time contributors to a defense that will surely feel lacking without the pair.

Woodson, in theory, would be just fine sitting out of practice this week, but Del Rio says that even guys with the experience of Woodson need to practice.

The Raiders have Taylor Mays, a veteran of five previous seasons, and Larry Asante, with a similar resume as Mays, ready to go whenever needed.

Safety Nate Allen was placed on the injured reserve designated to return list earlier in the week, and the team has a spot open on the 53 man roster.

It’s possible the team is waiting for a practice squad cornerback to stand out this week for the promotion. Or attempting a to trade for Seattle safety Kam Chancellor, who is currently holding out. The first possibility is more likely than the latter.


Jason Leskiw is SFBay’s Oakland Raiders beat writer and member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Follow @SFBay and @LeskiwSFBay on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of the Oakland Raiders.