Carr overcomes excitement en route to successful return

After eight long months, Oakland quarterback Derek Carr made his return to the field in the Raiders preseason Week 2 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

As to be expected, the 26-year-old signal caller had to battle some nervous energy:

“Before (the game) I was overly excited. I’m not gonna lie, when I took that first snap on the pass to Jared (Cook), as I was dropping I had to take a deep breath and try to focus because I was so excited to be out there again. It wasn’t nerves, I was excited.”

In his first game back following a broken fibula suffered in Week 16 last season, Carr completed seven of nine pass attempts for 100 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. More importantly, he remained upright passing the first test of his surgically repaired right leg. In three possessions, nine dropbacks, Carr, for the most part, avoided pressure. That despite the absence of Pro-Bowl left tackle Donald Penn, who has thus far held out of Raiders participation in search of a new contract.

In Penn’s stead, offseason free-agent acquisition Marshall Newhouse, formerly of the New York Giants, got the start on Carr’s blind side. And, as the quarterback said, his invisibility — really, that of the man across from him — is an excellent sign:

“He did a good job — he did a really good job. At one point, they switched and put (David) Sharpe in as well, and I didn’t know until like two plays into the series. … That means they’re doing some good things.”

The offensive line led by tackles Marshall Newhouse (73) and David Sharpe (71) run drills as the Oakland Raiders practice at their training facility in Alameda, Calif., on Tuesday, August 22, 2017.

While head coach Jack Del Rio refused to comment on Penn’s situation, saying he will “coach the guys that are here,” Carr intimated his satisfaction with having Newhouse man the position. Though, he did add that should Penn return to the team with which he has spent the past three seasons, the depth of the offensive line becomes a key strength of his team.

Quipped Carr:

“From past family experience, I know that if an injury happens, or if someone breaks a shoelace, that we’re OK still.”

The experience he speaks of is that of older brother David Carr, who was selected No. 1 overall in the 2002 draft before having his career stunted by poor pass protection.

That couldn’t be further from the situation in which the younger Carr currently finds himself. While the elder was sacked more than any other quarterback in the league through the first four years of his career (208 times) Derek stands tall behind the line that was the stingiest in surrendering sacks a season ago (18).

David was also at a lack of weapons, something certainly untrue of Derek.

Allotted the full five seconds requested from his line, the Oakland quarterback enjoyed his first outing joined by this season’s increased arsenal. Joining receiver standouts Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, rookie wideout Keon Hatcher and new tight end Cook enjoyed targets. And Lee Smith, showed his growth as a passing target, catching two including a score.

Carr also got his first opportunity to hand the ball off to new running back weapon Marshawn Lynch, who toted the ball twice for 10 yards in his first game as a Raider. Said Carr:

“To turn around to give that guy the ball, especially as a guy who looked up to him as a fan of his growing up, to turn around and hand it to him is pretty cool.”

The biggest single play, though, was made by Cooper, who leaped to beat triple-coverage on a perfectly dropped go route from Carr for a 31-year pickup. That, Carr said, is his receiver’s greatest visible growth of seasons past:

“He’s becoming that guy that we can throw it up to, we all know Crab can do that. Coop’s rookie year, he would come down with a few of them, but it’s consistent now. … And, he’s just playing so physical. He’s not going to let anybody push him around.”

That big completion preceded a touchdown pass to Crabtree as the Raiders fell, 24-21.

The outcome, however, bears little importance. The greatest positive out of Oakland’s second preseason game was the health and continued excellence of their Pro-Bowl quarterback.