Raiders

Lingering effects remain, but nothing Derek Carr can't handle

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AP

Lingering effects remain, but nothing Derek Carr can't handle

ALAMEDA – Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio called Derek Carr two Mondays past, tasked with breaking bad news. The CT Scan taken earlier that afternoon found a transverse process fracture in Carr’s back. The franchise quarterback was going to miss some time.

Carr absorbed the information, and then did something surprising.

He apologized. As if getting hurt was somehow his fault.

Deep down, Carr knew it wasn’t. He took Adam Gotsis’ knee to the lower back while getting wrenched to the ground against Denver. Nothing you can do about that.

It didn’t change the sentiment, or that Carr wasn’t going to be available one game at least. He couldn’t try to end a two-game losing streak, rekindling helplessness last felt after a broken fibula put him on the shelf.

“I felt bad because I care so much about this team and this organization that even though I had a broken back I still felt bad that I couldn’t be out there to help because as you guys know, I sat there for two games last year and had to watch knowing there’s nothing I could do to help,” Carr said Wednesday. “It is a lonely feeling. It hurts because I see the sacrifice all my teammates make and I just want to be out there to help them, because I believe that I can.”

The Raiders are reliant on Carr. There’s little doubt about that. They go well when he does, especially with his penchant for coming through in the clutch. He puts the Raiders in position to succeed, often with changes unclear to the untrained eye.

Backup EJ Manuel wasn’t bad, but the Raiders missed Carr in a 30-17 loss to Baltimore. He practiced twice before the Ravens game and pushed to play, though that end was always unrealistic.

There was, however, a message sent.

“I wanted to show my teammates and my coaches that no matter what I’m going to do anything I can for my team,” Carr said. “I wanted to show our city and our organization that it doesn’t matter what happens, I’m going do everything I can to be out there. Those are the things that motivated and pushed me.”

Carr is physically ready to play the Los Angeles Chargers, and motivated to snap a three-game losing streak. Playing well is imperative. A loss would put the Raiders in the AFC West cellar. A win would alleviate stress and provide confidence heading into a Thursday night clash with Kansas City.

Carr says the back fracture doesn’t restrict his throwing motion. He wouldn’t return if it did. Lingering effects remain, but it’s nothing Carr can’t handle.

“I mean it just hurts,” Carr said. “There’s really nothing much more to it. It just hurts. It’s not like anything that’s like, ‘Oh man, if I take a hit, I’m worried.’ It’s not like a worry. It’s just one of those things you have to deal with. Just like everybody in the NFL right now.”

Carr might wear extra padding or a flak jacket. He isn’t sure yet. Odds are great Carr takes some punishment Sunday against L.A.’s ferocious pass rush, but refuses to play worried about getting hit. He can’t make it worse, and he can handle the pain.

“Any time you take a hit like that there’s always a chance for anything,” Carr said. “That’s the risk that we take every time we take the field. It’s a violent game that we play, more violent than people realize just watching on TV. But with that said, it’s a risk every single week. You could get hit. You could break your ankle, too. You could break your finger. You could do a lot of things. It’s just one of those things. You take a risk every time you go out there.”

As career winds down, Donald Penn is becoming impatient

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AP

As career winds down, Donald Penn is becoming impatient

ALAMEDA – Donald Penn plans to play two more years after this one. That’s it.

The Raiders left tackle plans to play out a contract extended this fall, which would complete 14 NFL seasons.

Penn wants to make the most of the time he has left. This season hasn’t been good use of an opportunity. The Raiders are on life support following Sunday’s 26-15 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Raiders entered Kansas City with a chance to control their own destiny, a shocking and possibly undeserved turn following the Chiefs' midseason collapse. They went from 2-4 to sitting atop the division with four games to play. They had a chance to erase a disappointing start, and ultimately coughed it up. They did that last year, too, and had to settle for a wild card spot.

“One of these days we’re going to stop giving it away. We we’re going to take it,” Penn said Tuesday. “Maybe I, being a veteran, need to do a better job of leading these guys and reminding them that chances are rare. I’m only playing two years after this, so my opportunities are getting shorter and shorter. I want to play in and win a Super Bowl before I’m done. My sense of urgency is at an all-time high right now.”

Salvaging this season might be tough, and players know it. They were just as frustrated as head coach Jack Del Rio was talking to the press a day before. This Chiefs loss stung. They were given a golden opportunity and squandered it. 

The Raiders need to win out and get tons of help to reach the postseason. They can’t get eliminated this week, but an eighth loss Sunday to Dallas would be a virtual death sentence.

“If we don’t beat Dallas, there won’t be a playoff scenario,” Penn said. “All I can focus on is our next game. We have to get that going and do something positive. It has been a frustrating season.”

A victory over K.C. would’ve been huge, but the Raiders never showed up in a terrible offensive effort. The Raiders had three or fewer plays on six of their first eight drives, and were shutout into the fourth quarter.

“We didn’t make plays when we had the chance. Kansas City did,” Penn said. “They made all the plays at the right time they needed to. They made the plays we didn’t make early in the game. We were still fighting. We didn’t make progress with the chances we had.

“We had opportunities but didn’t capture them. It festered all through the game. We did the same thing last year. We went to Kansas City last year with a chance to control our own destiny and gave it away.”

Del Rio 'frustrated and pissed off' after Raiders waste golden opportunity

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USATSI

Del Rio 'frustrated and pissed off' after Raiders waste golden opportunity

ALAMEDA – Head coach Jack Del Rio started his Monday press conference with a message for Raider Nation.

He didn’t wait for a question or a prompt. Del Rio just went for it, and set the tone for a new reality. Going to the playoffs is a considerable long shot after Sunday’s 26-15 loss in Kansas City. Not an impossibility, but it’s close.

Del Rio wanted everyone to know that’s unacceptable, and he isn’t happy about it.

“As players and coaches, we are as frustrated and pissed off about what occurred yesterday as anybody out there,” Del Rio said. “Losing a game like that hurts, and there are no words I can say here today that will take away that pain or make people who care about the Raiders feel better. I’m really not going to try.”

Fans should be upset when a team with offensive firepower to spare can’t score consistently. Fans should be upset when drafted players weren’t developed, and major defensive flaws weren’t addressed in the offseason.

This year’s Raiders are a woefully disappointing 6-7, nowhere near the lofty internal expectations held to start this season. It feels like a waste now, with so much talent producing so little. People will point fingers. Someone will ultimately be held accountable and several will end up unemployed, players and coaches alike.

That’s what happens when you fall short. Ownership isn’t happy. Nobody is.

Looking back, Del Rio wishes his team would’ve played with abandon, with some risk in their play. The Raiders haven’t done that much this year, tiptoeing through quality competition with lackluster results.

“I think that there have been many examples throughout this season where we have not played boldly to go make the plays,” Del Rio said. “I would really like to see that because, at the end of the day, if you kind of go half-way, it’s not good enough anyway. I’d love to see us just let it rip. And go play. We’ve talked about playing with our hair on fire, talked about that kind of effort and energy and playing fast. That’s what I believe in, and I’d love to see it more often.”

The Silver and Black played like that back in Week 7, in a game against Kansas City. It was the only time these Raiders channeled last year’s group, which got by with a little hocus pocus and quality performance under pressure. It felt like a turning point then. The past few weeks proved it was not.

The Raiders could still make the playoffs. Getting there was simple math heading into Sunday’s game. Now calculus is required.

What comes next? The Raiders have to win out and pray for rain, hoping it’s good enough to sneak into the postseason through the back door. Different is necessary to do that. They simply haven’t been good enough or consistent enough to believe that’s possible.

“We have to coach it better. We have to execute it better, as players and coaches,” Del Rio said. “Head coach and quarterback get a win-loss record off of their performance in these game. We’ve won a bunch of games over the last three years, and we’re going to continue to win a bunch of games. Yesterday was a disappointment. We can’t go back and do anything about that. I tell guys all the time that you get what you earn in this league. What we’ve earned is 6-7. What we have in front of us are three games and what we’ve got to do is play good football and win the next one and see where that takes us.”