AFC: Carr, Raiders beat Titans in season opener, 26-16


AFC: Carr, Raiders beat Titans in season opener, 26-16

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Derek Carr showed the advantage of having a year of experience and a better supporting cast in a season opener pitting two of the NFL's rising, young quarterbacks.

Carr threw for 262 yards and two touchdowns, and Oakland beat Tennessee 26-16 to give Carr his third straight win over Marcus Mariota and his Titans in as many years.

"It was fun to be back out," Carr said.

Amari Cooper caught a TD pass as the Raiders made the Titans pay for opening the season with an onside kick they couldn't recover.

Marshawn Lynch also looked very refreshed after his year away from football. Lynch finished with 18 carries for 76 yards - 10 in the fourth quarter.

"We're one for one with that," Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said of using Lynch late. "And that's the idea to be able to close these things, and we did that very well."

Giorgio Tavecchio kicked field goals of 20, 52, 52 and 43 yards in his NFL debut. He was signed Friday to fill in for the Raiders' all-time leading scorer and 18-year veteran Sebastian Janikowski, who's on injured reserve with a bad back.

Both Carr and Mariota broke their right leg hours apart on Christmas Eve for season-ending injuries. Carr finished his third season by tying Ezekiel Elliott of Dallas for third in voting for the AP MVP award after leading Oakland to a 12-4 season, while Mariota led the Titans to a 9-7 mark in just his second season.

Mariota looked healthy in running for a 10-yard TD and threw for 256 yards.

While Mariota was healthy for training camp, the Titans' top offseason additions of rookie wide receiver Corey Davis and veteran Eric Decker weren't. The Titans had to settle for a pair of Ryan Succop field goals after driving inside the Oakland 10.

"When you play against a good team like Oakland, you have to hit on all cylinders, and unfortunately we didn't make enough plays," Mariota said.


The Titans became the first team since 2009 to open a season with an onside kick. The Minnesota Vikings were the previous, and they also didn't recover the kick. Ryan Succop's kick went to Shalom Luani. Carr completed three passes, Lynch rumbled 14 yards on his first carry, and Cooper finished the drive with an 8-yard TD catch for a quick 7-0 lead .

Titans coach Mike Mularkey defended his decision to open with an onside kick, saying he wanted the ball for his offense. No, he didn't second-guess himself. "Not for a second," Mularkey said.


Lynch took the first carry of the game for Oakland and rumbled right over Pro Bowl defensive lineman Jurrell Casey on the Raiders' final scoring drive on one of his six rushes to set up the clinching field goal.

Lynch accidentally interrupted Del Rio's postgame interview and told a team official he had been available for three minutes. "They didn't holler at me. I'm good right?" Lynch said to laughter before closing the door and leaving.


After Lynch picked up a first down on fourth-and-1 inside the Titans 5, the Raiders didn't give him the ball again with Carr throwing three straight passes to Cooper.

The wide receiver dropped the first, Titans rookie Adoree Jackson got a hand in breaking up the second and Titans linebacker Brian Orakpo got his right fingers on the third that Cooper couldn't pull in at the back of the end zone.

Carr complimented Jackson's play while also blaming himself for not making better throws. "I'm completely fine with saying I screwed up," Carr said. "I did a couple times. It always happens in a Week 1, but when you win you can sit back and realize that we could've had so much more."


The Raiders led the NFL in 2016 in the fewest sacks allowed and went 10 games allowing one sack or fewer. The Titans sacked Carr on back-to-back plays early in the second quarter with Wesley Woodyard, then Derrick Morgan taking the quarterback down. Tennessee didn't get to Carr again.


Raiders: Host Jets.

Titans: Visit Jaguars.

Reports: Patriots among NFL teams taking a look at Manziel

File photo

Reports: Patriots among NFL teams taking a look at Manziel

Johnny Manziel said 10 days ago, "I'd go to New England in a heartbeat," when asked about the Patriots as a potential landing spot.

That seemed like wishful thinking at the time, but they're taking a look at him...along with 12 other NFL teams, according to ESPN's Eric Williams. 

Tom Brady's current backup Brian Hoyer is, like Manziel, an ex-Cleveland Browns quarterback. Manziel would again be competing with Hoyer for the Pats' No. 2 job should New England take a chance on "Johnny Football", the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner from Texas A&M, who's been out of football the past two years because of substance abuse and emotional problems.

FOX Sports' Bruce Feldman had it at 12 teams watching Manziel work out at the University of San Diego and said the Patriots gave Manziel a weigh-in.


Patriots re-sign offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle

Patriots re-sign offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle

The Patriots have agreed to re-sign offensive lineman LaAdrian Waddle, his agent Scott Casterline confirmed on Twitter.  Waddle hit unrestricted free agency when the new league year began and made a visit to the Cowboys earlier this week. In the end, though, he chose to return to the team that claimed him off of waivers at the end of the 2015 season.

Waddle, who turns 27 in July, appeared in 12 games last season for the Patriots. He was the first right tackle the Patriots turned to when Marcus Cannon suffered an ankle injury mid-season against the Chargers. He ended up playing 51 snaps against the likes of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram without allowing a sack. He then started the next three games against the Broncos, Raiders and Dolphins and held star rushers Von Miller, Khalil Mack and Cameron Wake -- all of whom rush primarily off of the offensive right -- without a sack. 

Injuries forced Waddle (380 snaps on the season) to split the right tackle position with Cameron Fleming (543 snaps), but he was the primary backup when healthy. Waddle started the Divisional Round playoff game against the Titans but suffered a knee injury and was removed for Fleming. 

Both Fleming and Waddle visited the Cowboys this week, and the fact that Waddle has re-signed with the Patriots may impact Fleming's decision moving forward. 

The Patriots went to great lengths to build tackle depth last season, and adding Waddle to the roster helps them retain some of that depth after losing their left tackle, Nate Solder, to the Giants via free agency. Waddle could be an option on the left side, but the vast majority of his work since entering the league as an undrafted rookie in 2013 has been on the right side. 

The Patriots now have Fleming, Marcus Cannon, Cole Croston, Tony Garcia and Andrew Jelks on their depth chart at tackle. Croston, Garcia and Jelks are all headed into their second years as pros. Croston remained on the 53-man roster all season -- an indication that the Patriots liked him enough not to expose him to the waiver system -- but did not see meaningful snaps. Garcia and Jelks both missed the entirety of the 2017 season on reserve lists. 

Once the Patriots lost Solder to the Giants, it seemed to be of paramount importance that the Patriots re-sign either Waddle or Fleming. Behind Cannon, there were simply too many question marks not to have one return. The Patriots could opt to draft a tackle, but this is considered an average year at that position in that there are few ready-made NFL players and several developmental types.

Before the Super Bowl last season, I asked offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia how the team was able to manage offensively with backups at right tackle for much of the season. 

"It's not like [Fleming and Waddle are] not good players," Scarnecchia said. "They are good players. Their skill set seemed to fit that position pretty well. They have the traits that we covet. And they're both really smart guys, very willing learners, and they're both driven to be good and they want to play good. And I think all those things have manifested themselves when they've been out there playing. And we've been very, very pleased with what they've done for us this year, essentially splitting that position."

Asked about the aspects of the game the Patriots worked on with both Waddle and Fleming last year, Scarnecchia said, "For us it transcends everything. Obviously run-blocking and pass-blocking. They're both good at those things. Are they great at those things? No. But they've been able to steadily improve over the last two years to the point where we put them out there and no one's worried. And it's been that way the whole season after Marcus got hurt. Yeah they've done a nice job for us."