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.”

Does Gruden see Lynch, Crabtree on Raiders in 2018?

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USATSI

Does Gruden see Lynch, Crabtree on Raiders in 2018?

Jon Gruden doesn’t love offseason restrictions on player-coach interaction. They weren’t so strict when Gruden last coached nine years ago, but the new collective bargaining agreement prevents the new Raiders head coach from extended contact with his players at this stage in the NFL’s downtime.

He has, however, run into several Raiders stopping by the team’s Alameda complex.

Count running back Marshawn Lynch and receiver Michael Crabtree among them. Conversations with those talented, yet mercurial players will be key as Gruden and general manager Reggie McKenzie decide how best to use the salary cap.

Both guys have a long history of NFL production. Both guys are getting up there in age, and have some drawbacks. Both guys can be cut without a salary cap hit.

Gruden had nice things to say about both guys in a Wednesday interview with the Bay Area News Group.

He was asked directly if Lynch will be on the 2018 roster.

“I don’t know,” Gruden said. “I bumped into him. Some of these players that live locally do come to the facility to get a workout, see the trainer. I’ve been downstairs and met several guys. I have talked to Marshawn briefly. We’ll see. We’ll keep everybody posted. Right now, he’s our leading ball carrier. He’s our back, and we’re counting on him. Hopefully we get an opportunity to work together. That’s a man that has a lot of respect in this league as a player and I certainly have respect for him also.”

Lynch started slow but finished strong, and was the team’s best skill player in the season’s second half. He’s contracted to make up to $6 million in 2018.

Crabtree came up later in a discussion of what he likes on the roster.

“I got to bump into Crabtree,” Gruden said. “Hopefully we can get the best out of Crabtree and his career.”

Crabtree is coming off a down year following two stellar seasons in Oakland. He had just 58 catches for 618 yards – he still had eight touchdowns – but his targets and snaps decreased the last two weeks. He seemed at odds with the previous coaching staff, a group that was dismissed at season’s end.

Crabtree is set to make $7 million next season, though none of it is guaranteed.

Gruden meeting reinforces T.J. Carrie's desire to remain with Raiders

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USATSI

Gruden meeting reinforces T.J. Carrie's desire to remain with Raiders

PALO ALTO – Raiders cornerback T.J. Carrie became a father on Super Bowl Sunday. Newborn son Elijah Carrie has been the sole focus these last few weeks, as T.J. learns on the job how to be a dad.

Pardon him if he hasn’t thought much about impending free agency. The 2014 seventh-round pick turned full-time starter has a rookie deal expiring soon, with a raise on the horizon following his best season as a pro.

That’ll come in March. Early February, however, has kept him otherwise engaged.

“I’ve been so busy with my little one, and I haven’t been getting any sleep,” Carrie said Thursday. “Learning how to be a dad has been so engulfing that I haven’t delved into the details of what free agency will mean to me.”

Soul searching wasn’t required to realize his dream scenario. The East Bay native wants to stay in Oakland, with a Raiders team he loved as a kid.

“My intention is to be here,” Carrie said. “I’m a Bay Area guy, a hometown kid. I couldn’t see myself being anywhere else. This is a passion for me. I dreamed about playing for the Raiders for such a long time. Now that I’ve had the opportunity to play there for four years, I want to finish (with the Raiders).”

Carrie wants to work with a new Raiders regime. He visited the team’s Alameda complex on Wednesday and met with new head coach Jon Gruden and defensive assistants. The interaction left Carrie wanting more, furthering his belief that be belongs in Silver and Black.

“Coach Gruden is very energetic,” Carrie said. “He’s a coach that likes to have fun but it a very business oriented guy. There are a lot of things, I imagine, that are going to change, just from the way he has done things. It’s going to be different, but I embrace it. It’ll be very challenging entering into a new regime, but there are a lot of positive factors involved with it.”

The Raiders don’t have many cornerbacks under contract come mid-March. They released David Amerson, and could do the same with Sean Smith later this offseason. Gareon Conley should start at one spot, but everything else is wide-open entering free agency and the draft.

Carrie could find value on the open market after recording 70 tackles and nine passes defensed in 16 starts. He’ll explore his options further next month, before free agency begins in earnest March 14.

“I know March is really when it starts to go down,” Carrie said. “My son will be a little older then, so I can focus more on free agency and make some more decisions.”