Carr unconcerned with training camp interceptions, focused on progression


Carr unconcerned with training camp interceptions, focused on progression

NAPA – Quarterback Derek Carr has thrown his share of interceptions this Raiders training camp.

An early Wednesday throw bounced off Karl Joseph’s hands – No. 42 wasn’t thrilled about that – and ended up with undrafted rookie cornerback Breon Borders. TJ Carrie jumped Carr’s final volley and returned it for a touchdown.

There’s no need to stress over that. Carr isn’t, not one bit.

Offensive coordinator Todd Downing evaluates every throw for accuracy, pace, decision making, etc., and gives them a numerical value. The entire practice gets a grade and ends up on a chart. Carr’s report card is full of high marks.

“Every camp, every OTA, all those things and I’ve progressed. The percentage that I’ve progressed from last year to this year, it’s awesome,” Carr said after practice. "I want to always stay on that trend. Now that kind of stuff, that’s going to happen. TJ [Carrie] made a great jump. He read the play and he jumped it. That kind of stuff is going to happen.

"As long as I’m going to the right place with the ball, I’ll be OK. But if I’m making dumb decisions, then I’ll be mad. As long as we’re going in the right direction, which, based on the charts we are, that lets me know. OK, I’m doing the right things in the offseason. I’m doing the right things film study wise and so on and so forth.”

That’s no surprise for an MVP candidate and true franchise quarterback. While picks are often detailed on social media, bull’s-eyes are often overlooked because they’re common.

Carr and Downing are picky. Completions aren’t the benchmark. Was it accurate? Was it easily catchable? Did it go to the right receiver at the right time?

The fourth-year veteran continues to work on things and refine his technique and his game to best take advantage at the vast skill-position arsenal available to him.

Interceptions aren’t welcome, but there’s more to each practice rep than meets the eye. Carr constantly evaluates every aspect of his job, even when things are going well.

“(There’s) decision-making, accuracy, just giving guys catchable balls -- that’s always the main thing,” Carr said. “That’s a wide range of things. Not throwing a heater and bouncing it off the running back’s chest or too high. It’s knowing the game and knowing who can do what. Obviously, that takes time. The big thing for me is we have an accuracy percentage that we go off of. I just always want to make sure that number is always going up. That comes from footwork. That comes from timing and all those things.”


-- Veteran cornerback Sean Smith worked extensively as a hybrid safety/linebacker with all three defensive units, as the Raiders figure out where he best fits. Smith has also been a fourth cornerback working inside against spread formations. TJ Carrie continues to work outside with the first team.

-- Amari Cooper missed his sixth practice in seven sessions on Wednesday, meaning it’s virtually certain he won’t play Saturday at Arizona. Edge rusher Khalil Mack missed his second straight practice with an undisclosed injury.

-- Third-round defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes has been praised for his play this training camp. The versatile talent has shown power, speed and tenacity in practice. Carr, however, paid the rookie a huge compliment. He likened him to a former New York Giants and Raiders pass rusher.

“Very explosive, great hands,” Carr said. “He reminds me a lot of the way [Justin] Tuck can get skinny and shoot a gap. The way he plays with his hands, and if he gets beat the first time, he’s going to counter again. If he gets beat then he’s going to counter again. His mind never stops. His motor never stops. That kind of player inside with Bruce [Irvin] and Khalil [Mack] rushing the outside, it’s going to be a problem. It really is.”

-- The Raiders were missing five members of their draft class on Tuesday. They got four back on Wednesday, with Vanderdoes, offensive tackles David Sharpe and Jylan Ware returning as full participants. Sharpe was the second-team right tackle upon return. Second-round safety Obi Melifonwu suited up but did not participate in individual or team drills. It’s highly unlikely he’ll play Saturday’s preseason opener at Arizona.

-- Running back DeAndre Washington has taken significant snap volume in camp, with Marshawn Lynch and Jalen Richard being preserved for the fall. Washington has impressed as a runner and a pass protector. Both skills were on display during Wednesday’s padded practice, when he controlled rushing linebackers charging Carr and wiggled free for longer runs.

“He’s doing a great job,” Carr said. “Not only in running the football. Obviously, he had a good touchdown for us in the red-zone period, but he’s doing great things in pass protection for a guy of his stature. Usually you think a smaller guy, I don’t know, but he’s real stocky. He’s strong. So when he gets his hands on guys, he does a pretty good job. I think that he’s had a phenomenal camp.”

-- Undrafted receiver Isaac Whitney flashed on a few plays, showing great downfield speed to track and catch deep passes.

-- Quarterback Connor Cook took two second-unit reps on Wednesday, in what was believed to be his first with the primary backups. He didn’t get much help, having a pass dropped one play and getting sacked the next. He’ll continue to battle for the No. 2 quarterback job with EJ Manuel during the preseason. Manuel currently has a firm grip on that position battle.

Raiders fire defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr.

Raiders fire defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr.

Ken Norton Jr.'s time with the Raiders is up.

With the team underperforming, Oakland has fired Norton as the defensive coordinator, the team announced Tuesday afternoon. John Pagano will handle the play calling duties when the Raiders take on the Broncos this Sunday.

Head coach Jack Del Rio issued the following statement regarding the news:

“After careful thought, I have made a difficult decision to part ways with Ken Norton, Jr. as defensive coordinator. I have the utmost respect for Ken as a person and as a coach, but I feel that moving John Pagano into the play-calling role will best utilize his wealth of experience. I appreciate Ken’s passion and commitment to the Raiders since coming aboard and wish him the best going forward.”

The Raiders defense under Norton this season ranks 26th in the NFL in yards allow per game (367.0), is allowing 24.7 points per game and has yet to record an interception through 10 games.

"We played under our talent level. Those things come with consequences," defensive lineman Justin Ellis told reporters shortly after the news broke.

"The axe fell on all of us. We love Coach Norton. We didn’t want to see this happen," safety Reggie Nelson said.

Norton joined Del Rio's staff prior to the 2015 season.

Raiders will face a familiar foe calling plays for Broncos


Raiders will face a familiar foe calling plays for Broncos

ALAMEDA – The Denver Broncos shook up their coaching staff prior to Sunday’s game with the Raiders, firing offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and promoting quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave to that spot.

The name should sound familiar to anyone who doesn’t suffer Dory-style short-term memory loss. Musgrave was the Raiders offensive coordinator in 2015 and 2016 and introduced a system still used in these parts, to far greater effect.

Musgrave orchestrated the No. 6-ranked offense last year, with 120 rushing yards and 253 passing yards per game. They were seventh with 26 points per game.

Head coach Jack Del Rio still decided to let Musgrave’s contract expire. The two didn’t always agree, and the Raiders chose to keep the coveted Downing in house with a promotion.

The offense has not maintained previous course.

All those numbers are down under new coordinator Todd Downing, largely operating with the same talent base plus receiving tight end Jared Cook.

They’re averaging 50 less yards and 5.5 fewer points, thus far.

Del Rio was asked on his 95.7-FM radio show whether he regretting making the switch. His answer was swift and direct.

“No, I do not,” Del Rio said. “And I wish (Musgrave) the best this week. Really, I do.”

Del Rio doesn’t wish him too well heading into an important matchup at Oakland Coliseum. The Broncos offense has struggled mightily this season, and will go with 2016 first-round pick Paton Lynch for the first time this season.

Del Rio insists the Raiders are going up against the system, not the new (yet familiar) play caller.

“You can’t change dramatically what you’ve done with your system in Week 12 or Week 13,” Del Rio said. “We’ll prepare ourselves and be ready to go against the system. Understand that there may be some things that Bill likes a little more than what Mike might do.”

The Raiders know Musgrave well and vice versa, which should make for an intriguing chess match at Oakland Coliseum.