Raiders notes: QB Campbell finds new targets


Raiders notes: QB Campbell finds new targets

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Depth-chart wise, Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell was without his top three wide receivers Sunday in Buffalo, what with Darrius Heyward-Bey (knee) Jacoby Ford (hamstring) and Louis Murphy (groin) all injured and inactive.But Campbell found a couple of new and reliable targets in the most bittersweet of manners in the Raiders' 38-35 loss to the Bills in rookie Denarius Moore and veteran Derek Hagan.

The ultra-acrobatic Moore, the fifth-round draft choice out of Tennessee who did not have a catch and was targeted only once last week in Denver, caught five passes for 146 yards, including the 50-yard touchdown with 3:41 to play that gave Oakland a 35-31 lead. Hagan had five receptions for 61 yards."It was an O.K. day for me," Moore said. "I came in, made plays when they called upon me. But overall, the thing is, we took an 'L' today."Hagan made his Raiders debut after being a somewhat surprising addition to the inactive list last week in Denver."It felt good to get out there and run around, make some plays and pick up where Jason and I left off in the preseason," Hagan said. "But we lost. If we won, I would be feeling a whole lot better. But this loss hurts."Campbell benefited from the two wideouts as well, throwing for 323 yards (his second-highest total as a Raider, behind the 324 yards he threw for at Jacksonville last season) on 23 of 33 passing with two touchdowns, an interception (on the Hail Mary to end the game) and a 108.5 passer rating.According to Silver and Black Illustrated, Campbell has a passer rating of 129.9 over his last seven games.Miller's struggles continue: Nick Miller had another tough day returning kicks. After struggling in the opener at Denver on punts, Miller replaced Jacoby Ford on kickoff duty. Miller averaged just 15.3 yards on four returns and slipped and fell inside the 5-yard line before scrambling to get to the 12-yard line on his final return.Miller was replaced as the returner by Rock Cartwright for the final kickoff, with 14 seconds to play but downed the ball in the end zone.Offensive explosion: The Bills set a franchise record with 34 first downs, and combined with the Raiders' 26 first downs, the 60 first downs were a Buffalo single-game combined mark.Also, per STATS LLC, the Bills became the first team to score touchdowns on all five of its second-half possessions since 1993.And the 35 points the Raiders allowed in the second half are a franchise record.Plus, the Raiders' 35 points scored is their most in a loss since they fell to Seattle, 43-37, in the 1988 season finale.Penalties surface again: The Raiders committed 15 penalties for 131 yards in their season opening win at Denver on Monday. And in building a 21-3 halftime lead Sunday in Buffalo, they were flagged just twice, for 10 yards. But they finished with eight for 85 costly yards.Passing of the torch?: For the first time in franchise history, Bills owner Ralph Wilson, 92, missed a Buffalo home opener, recovering from hips surgery. And fellow AFL pioneer Al Davis, 82, missed a game for what is believed to be only the third time since he's been with the team, an association that began in 1963.
HueJax interacts with fans: Raiders coach Hue Jackson got into a shouting match with some Bills fans as he walked off the field following the miscommunication that the replay official was again reviewing the final play of the game -- Da'Norris Searcy's interception on the Hail Mary, rather than a touchdown reception by Denarius Moore."That's just part of it," Jackson said. "I get a little emotional too, sometimes. But everything is good."No word, though, on if the fans feel the same.

Carr admits back injury had an impact: 'I had to deal with it'


Carr admits back injury had an impact: 'I had to deal with it'

Derek Carr was asked several times during the 2017 season whether a Week 4 back injury impacted his throwing motion, his play, his ability to produce. The Raiders quarterback dismissed the inquiries each time, proclaiming full health.

That wasn’t the whole truth. Three transverse process fractures in his back did affect him. Carr didn’t admit that. He didn’t want to use injury as an excuse. His play, Carr figured, should stand on its own.

Now, with the 2017 season in the rearview, Carr was a bit more candid about his physical state.

“When you break three bones in your back, it doesn’t feel good,” Carr said in this week’s episode of the Raiders Insider Podcast (Subscribe right here). “I’m thankful God healed me to the point I could walk around and be able to practice. Injuries will never be something I talk about, especially during the season, but since it’s after the season, the (back issue) was one of those things that was there.”

Denver’s Adam Gotsis kneed Carr in the back during a third-quarter sack. The fractures occurred there, and removed Carr from that 16-10 loss. The original prognosis had Carr out 2-4 weeks. He missed but one game and never stopped to rest. He missed a Wedneday practice, was limited the rest of the week and was questionable for a game backup EJ Manuel ultimately played.

Carr pushed to get back in the lineup. He didn’t miss another game, but that doesn’t mean the back injury was behind him.

“I had to deal with it,” Carr said. “I had to do certain things to manage it, but I just didn’t talk about it. I didn’t want it to be an excuse. It was a want more than anything else. I didn’t want it to be a reason. I couldn’t let that be a reason why I couldn’t do A, B or C.”

Carr’s back wasn’t the sole reason for lackluster offensive output, but it played a part. The Raiders dealt with flux in play calling and scheme preference, especially in the run game. On-field struggles splintered the locker room some, and an ironclad confidence began to soften.

Carr stands three-plus weeks from last season’s end. Distance provides perspective, and Carr wishes he could’ve done something to pull his Raiders out of a tailspin.

“I’ve looked back at the season over the past couple weeks and wondered if I could have done something or said something or acted upon something at a certain time,” Carr said. “You’re always looking to get better. …

“I’ve looked back (at) the way things were handled, things that went down and said, ‘Man. I wish I could’ve had the knowledge I have now. I would go back and fix that.’ That’s how things work. You gain experience from every situation you go through and try to be better the next time.”

Carr excited to work with Gruden: 'I want him to be tough on me'


Carr excited to work with Gruden: 'I want him to be tough on me'

Jon Gruden has been interviewed several times since becoming Raiders head coach. Quarterback Derek Carr hasn’t listened to most of those sessions, and certainly doesn’t seek them out.

One landed in Carr’s inbox recently, and something Gruden said really resonated.

Gruden’s message, paraphrased: If Derek Carr is not successful, then I’ve failed as a coach.

There are two comments in that one. Gruden considers Carr extremely talented, and he’s taking responsibility for unlocking the quarterback's vast potential.

Gruden will be hands on in Carr’s development, with all the coaching intensity and fire and eyebrow raises that have become Gruden’s signature.

“He’s going to demand of me. He’s going to push me,” Carr said on this week’s episode of the Raiders Insider Podcast, which will drop Tuesday morning (Subcribe right here). “He’s going to make me be the best version of myself.”

Carr had a direct answer to skeptics wondering aloud whether he can thrive under Gruden’s particular coaching style.

“I want him to be tough on me,” Carr said. “For anyone who thinks I want him to be a different way has no clue about me or how I play football or how I prepare to play this game. I don’t need to tell stories about how I prepare or manage myself.

“(Jon) and I are going to get along great. I hope that he demands of me. I hope he’s hard on me. I don’t need to know he loves me. He has already told me that about 20 times. I appreciate that and we’ll be friends forever, but I know he’ll be demanding and tell me what I need to do. Let’s go fix problems that I have and let’s do what I need to do to win championships. Hopefully that will give people some insight and hopefully that’s the story that gets out, because that’s the truth.”

Carr met his new head coach briefly before his introductory press conference, but has known Gruden since filming the Gruden QB Camp segment back in 2014. They got along great then, and in each interaction since.

“We have so much more in common that people realize,” Carr said. “I think it would blow some people’s minds. Him and I are very similar in the way we go about our business and how we carry ourselves. It’s an exciting time.”

Carr’s excited to have some stability in his football life. The three-time Pro Bowl quarterback will start his fifth NFL season with his fourth head coach, fourth go-round with an offensive coordinator and third offensive scheme. Gruden signed a 10-year contract. OC Greg Olson signed a four-year pact. They’ll be here a while, and Carr’s excited about that.

“It’s going to be really nice,” Carr said. “To know Jon signed on for a 10 years and (Olson) signed on for a long time shows me a couple of things. No. 1: that they believe in me. I don’t think Coach Gruden would’ve quit his day job, which I’m thankful he did. To get (Olson) out of a good spot in L.A (with the Rams), shows that they believe in me and that’s awesome. And, No. 2: I’m going to have two people I can talk to in a different language for years to come. We can grow within the relationship, and hopefully we’ll all ride off together. It’s set up that way right now, and we have a lot of work to do to reach that point.”