Raiders

Derek Carr has shown mastery of Jon Gruden’s scheme in short time

Derek Carr has shown mastery of Jon Gruden’s scheme in short time

Jon Gruden heaps responsibility on his quarterback. That’s true of most NFL schemes, but the Raiders head coach challenges his signal callers know all the terminology and concepts and adjustments and variables built into most every play.

He tests them constantly, changing defensive looks in practice, forcing quarterbacks to recall details on call in front of team meetings. It’s hard to handle by design.

Few can handle it well. Rich Gannon was one. Derek Carr is another.

The Raiders current franchise quarterback’s comprehension rate and recall under pressure has been welcome, but his insatiable desire for more might impress Gruden most.

“I think he’s one of the best, in terms of processing information,” Gruden said. “I think he craves new things. He wants more… ‘What do we have today? What are we doing today? What’s new? What do we got?’ He has a photographic memory. It comes so easy to him. He’s got the offense mastered more than I do.”

That last part’s hyperbole, but his exaggeration’s meant to make a point. Carr is pushing hard to get Gruden’s scheme down cold and apply its rules like his coach would.

Carr’s mastery is evident in practice, where he seems in complete control of the first unit. That has combined with his arm strength, quick release and accuracy that gives many confidence Carr will thrive this regular season and beyond working with Gruden. It might not have come quite so easy.

“There’s a lot of hard work for sure, a lot of hours spent trying to master it,” Carr said. “You think like he thinks, which has been fun and interesting for me to learn.

“In order to do that, the time you have to put in is a lot. It’s a lot. And both of us worked really hard on getting on the same page. I think we’re always going to continue to grow together and think about things differently and then figure it out. The main thing is when we hit the field, that’s us, that’s what he and I are putting on the field, the product at the same time. We didn’t want it to look like we’ve only been together for a short period of time. We wanted it to look like these guys have been around each other, it seems, like forever.”

Carr and Gruden have come a long way in a relatively short time. Learning a system like this takes time and includes several stages, starting with root concepts and terminology. The quarterback said the early days were spent cramming for a test, memorizing a ton early on. Gruden is constantly teaching new things, but continues to review and repeat to help quarterbacks learn.

“He does a great job, his teaching, progression for quarterbacks, the system, every single day he’ll hit on the new things but he’ll always remind you of what we did the past couple days,” Carr said. “So, you’re hitting it about seven to eight times before you really move on, to where it really becomes repetition and you become used to it.

“It has been a lot of work to get to the point to where it’s not just, ‘yeah, I memorized something on a paper.’ Well, I have to memorized every detail of it, and then know it inside and out and still know the defense inside and out and how do we beat it, how do we get to certain things? Initially, it was just, ‘what can I remember?’ As you continue to reference it and go back over it, it just becomes who we are.”

Raiders' Marcus Mariota 'dazzling' Jon Gruden so far in training camp

Raiders' Marcus Mariota 'dazzling' Jon Gruden so far in training camp

Marcus Mariota wasn't brought in with the expectation of being a starting quarterback for the Raiders in Year 1.

But early in training camp for Las Vegas, Mariota's athleticism and ability to make plays already are making an impression on his new coaching staff.

“He’s interesting. He took off a couple times today and really fired me up,” Gruden said after Friday’s practice (h/t RaidersWire). “He’s been hurt. Looked like the ankle has really turned the corner. He’s a dazzling playmaker with his feet and that’s the key to his game. I saw glimpses of that today and it was exciting. Started off slow in 7-on-7 but picked it up and had a really nice day.”

[RELATED: Raiders coach likens newcomer Collins to All-Pro DT Atkins]

After being the starting QB for the Tennessee Titans in each of his first four NFL seasons, he was usurped by Ryan Tannehill on the depth chart after being benched during a Week 6 loss. Tannehill started the remainder of the season as Tennessee advanced to the AFC Championship Game before losing to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Derek Carr is solidified as QB1 for the franchise's first season in Las Vegas, but don't count out Mariota to have some kind of a role in the offense week to week. Now that Gruden has seen it up close and personal, he'll have a hard time keeping Mariota's eye-popping speed on the sideline.

[RAIDERS TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

Raiders’ Maxx Crosby returns from COVID-19 reserve list after one week

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Raiders’ Maxx Crosby returns from COVID-19 reserve list after one week

Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby has been activated from the COVID-19 list and cleared to return to the team.

He was on the practice field at the team facility for Friday morning’s training camp practice.

Crosby, who led the team with 10 sacks as a rookie last season, went on the list Aug. 6 and missed a week of camp.

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