Raiders

Derek Carr making best of Raiders' revolving cast of wide receivers

Raiders

ALAMEDA -- Oh, how things can change in six weeks. 

Prior to the start of the season, many had deemed it a "make-or-break" one for Derek Carr. After years of wide receivers being shuffled in and out of Oakland, Carr finally was expected to have an arsenal of playmakers at his disposal. A group that was expected to be there for years to come. 

The Raiders had gone from Michael Crabtree, Seth Roberts, Jordy Nelson and Cordarrelle Patterson, to Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams, Hunter Renfrow and J.J. Nelson, not to mention tight end Darren Waller. 

But six weeks into the season, things look a little different for the Raiders at the receiver position than they expected. 

Brown went AWOL and got released prior to the start of the season. Williams was shuffled from the No. 2 receiver to the No. 1 and has been battling a foot ailment for the past three weeks. Nelson fought injuries before being cut, and Renfrow has faced some normal rookie growing pains. 

Head coach Jon Gruden has brought in Trevor Davis and Zay Jones by way of in-season trades, leaving Carr to develop new chemistry on the fly after a summer spent throwing passes to Brown, Williams, Nelson and Ryan Grant, who also has since been cut loose. 

The revolving door at wide receiver is something Carr got used to early in his career, and something he's trying to make the most of once again. 

 

"I don't even know what that means," Carr said while laughing after being asked what it would be like to have continuity at wideout. "Yeah, I don't even know what to say to that. You got me. That was a pretty funny one. I think the most stability I've had is when we had [Seth Roberts], [Amari Cooper] and [Michael Crabtree] for, what was it, two years? And that was pretty fun. But it is what it is, man. At the end of the day, no one cares in this league. You have to go out and perform and win football games. That's No. 1. 

"To be honest with you, it's kind of exciting," Carr continued. "I love the challenge. I wish it wasn't the case, but I do like the challenge. Because no one expected us in Indy or against Chicago to be able to throw the ball or do anything and we were able to go out there and play some good football. It is a fun challenge. I think we all do wish there was stability and we had our guys for the next 10 years, and hopefully, we do have them right now. Hopefully, these guys are it. I know they hope so. I know I hope so. 

"It's been a roller coaster of guys that we've had here and then not here and then back here again, so I just go with the flow. I'm just here to control what I can control and do my job."

The Raiders acquired Jones in a trade with the BIlls prior to the bye week, hoping to give Carr a vertical weapon they've been looking for since Brown was jettisoned. While it will take time to get the East Carolina product up to speed, Carr has been impressed with what he's seen so far. 

"Zay is a really good football player," Carr said. "When we traded for him, Lee Smith FaceTimed me and said, 'I can't believe it, man. You are absolutely going to love this guy.' I don't know what happened in Buffalo, to be honest with you, I wasn't paying much attention to other teams and their situations in-house. What I do know is that when he showed up I was like, 'Dang! Who's this guy?'

"All I know is that he's one of the most polite, humble, hard-working guys I've been around," Carr continued. "It means something to him and I'm glad we got him. And for what we gave up for him, you wouldn't think that's what he's worth. So I'm excited about the deal and I'm glad we have him." 

Jones got a crash course in the offense during the bye week and the Raiders hope he can be of some help Sunday when they travel to Green Bay to face the Packers. Carr knows the desired quarterback-receiver chemistry won't happen overnight, though. 

 

"There's timing with quarterbacks and receivers that you have to have," Carr said. "He's a good enough football player to where we can plug him and he can be productive. That second nature type stuff and second instinct kind of things, that will take a little bit of time, right? Those are just the cards we're dealt right now. But he's the type of guy and he's a super-smart football player where he can come in and play and help us. Which is very exciting."

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Despite the overall lack of weapons this season, Carr has played well for the most part. He's thrown for 1,117 yards, six touchdowns and just three interceptions while completing 73.3 percent of his passes. He's also played a key role in directing the Raiders' efficient running attack that helped Oakland secure back-to-back wins over the Colts and Bears before the bye week. 

One day the Raiders' revolving door of receivers will cease. Until then, it's up to Carr to make it work. That's just life in the NFL.