Raiders

Derek Carr for MVP? The noise 'means nothing' to the Raiders' QB

Derek Carr for MVP? The noise 'means nothing' to the Raiders' QB

ALAMEDA – Derek Carr is the nation’s young quarterback of the moment. That's a title bump he didn't request.

The Raiders signal caller has had an excellent first half to his season, with excellent stats and a series of come-from-behind wins. With it comes positive press.

Sure, Dallas’ Dak Prescott is on the cover of magazines, but he’s being considered for rookie of the year. Carr’s being discussed as an MVP candidate.

Casual current became a Class VI rapid after Sunday’s 30-24 victory over Tampa Bay where Carr threw for 513 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions bringing his team back late in the fourth quarter and ahead with little extra time remaining.

Carr’s numbers have been awesome, but quarterbacks are judged on wins. The 25-year old is best recognized a trusted leader of men, guiding a talented crew to a 6-2 mark halfway through the year. There have been three comebacks in the fourth quarter or later, with Carr seemingly immune to the stress.

The hot takes have come strong this week, with Carr being included with Tom Brady and Matt Ryan among legitimate MVP candidates. Some have chosen him as a favorite. Contrarians say he ain’t so great.

All are dissecting what has changed for Carr between this season and the previous two. Those close to this team have analyzed this topic for months, and there are several factors involved. Carr is more comfortable in his reads and his role in this offensive scheme. He’s also using an improved running game and excellent receivers thanks to a hulking offensive line that allows everyone else to thrive.

Carr, however, is getting all the credit from national types hammering these trending Raiders.

Now feels appropriate to unearth a quote Carr has used several times before, one that describes his mantra in football times like these: Ignore the good and the bad said about you, because neither matter.

Results count. Compliments don’t.

Carr doesn’t pay attention to the chatter. He can admit, however, it’s getting harder to avoid.

“(It is) when people come running up to me and things like that, but halfway through the year, it means nothing,” Carr said. “It’s cool to be, you know, as a little kid thinking about those kinds of things, that’s cool, but that’s probably where it ends for me.”

Family and close friends wouldn’t distract with MVP talk. Plenty of voices remain to break focus from Sunday night’s AFC West clash against Denver, which is carried between film and meetings and practice and workouts and meals and designed rest.

“I would rather not hear anything,” Carr said. “I would rather just go about my business and hang out with my family, to be honest. But, it’s a part of this business, it’s a part of this job so… Trust me, I’m very honored and thankful, don’t get me wrong, but at this point in the year, that stuff is, it’s cool but it’s not for me.”

The NFL MVP is voted upon after the regular season and awarded just before the Super Bowl. It isn’t decided halfway through.

“I don’t believe there’s such thing as a midseason MVP or anything like that,” receiver Amari Cooper said. “But, if Derek keeps playing well, at the end of the season we’ll definitely see.”

If the Raiders go 6-2 in the second half and therefore 12-4 overall, Carr should rightfully be in the discussion for the league’s finest individual award. Most have carried that message.

Khalil Mack, one of Carr’s best friends on the team, couldn’t help but support his boy.

“D.C., that’s my dog, man,” Mack said. “He deserves that. He’s a hell of a player, hell of a person and hell of a quarterback. I’m glad he’s on my team.”

Bruce Irvin was diplomatic about his quarterback’s hot streak, especially with so much football remaining.

“We have a long season left still,” Irvin said. “He’s having a great year and is leading us the way he’s supposed to. It’s Week 9. We have bigger goals than anything individual. We’re trying to make the playoffs, and I’m sure DC would tell you that’s more important that anything else. It’s bigger than us. It’s about we.”
 

Raiders rookie Kolton Miller off to solid start with plenty of room to grow

Raiders rookie Kolton Miller off to solid start with plenty of room to grow

MIAMI -- Kolton Miller has played every Raiders offensive snap through two games, compiling stats suggesting the rookie left tackle’s season is off to a solid start.

This year’s No. 15 overall pick has allowed just three quarterback hurries -- he’s one of seven left tackles to allow no sacks, no QB hits this season -- in 83 pass-blocking snaps against the Rams and Broncos. The Raiders have not run great off the left tackle, with 13 yards in the too-small-a-sample-size four attempts. Running backs are averaging 4.0 yards on carries between Miller and mauler left guard Kelechi Osemele.

Numbers will tell part of this story. Tom Cable sees the whole matrix.

The Raiders offensive line coach believes Miller can be an excellent left tackle, but he fully understands his star pupil has a long, long way to go.

“If you’re looking at the whole spectrum of it, I would say he’s doing C-plus work right now and continuing to climb,” Cable told NBC Sports Bay Area on Thursday. “That’s where you want him. You don’t want him failing, and at the same time I don’t think there will be rookies out there doing better than him. That’s a good thing, but he has a long way to go to become a complete player.

“That’s just part of being young, more than anything. He is on course. He’s invested in this process. I like his preparation and how he gets ready for each test. He presses into it, which is really important.”

Cable has pressed new mechanics upon the 6-foot-8, 309-pound UCLA product, helping a supreme athlete become a technician in time. He has Miller going more vertical in his pass-blocking sets, to help him control matchups with defensive linemen and use his size appropriately. There’s a major emphasis in cleaning up his run blocking.

And, in an effort that will take some time, Cable believes Miller can gain functional strength and lean bulk to his frame working with the Raiders' strength staff.

“[Cable] has worked to adjust things here and there to help refine my technique and make me a better player,” Miller said. “It has been great working with him.”

Miller has the size and athleticism and savvy to be a productive player. Cable believes two other attributes are vital to his professional success: coach-ability and commitment.

“He’s the strong, silent type in terms of personality and is hungry to be the best version of himself,” Cable said. “He’s in search of that. He checks all the boxes for us. He wants to learn and fix mistakes, and the cool thing is that he’ll then come out on the field and work hard at it.”

Cable and the Raiders took a deep dive into Miller’s background, and felt confident in making him a first-round pick.

“If you’re going to take a guy early in the draft like that, you need to understand his level of humility,” Cable said. ‘There are times when guys get picked early and get paid a little bit, they think they’re made it. You want to find out of he can stay even-keeled, not put too much into the whistles and bell and put everything into being worthy of that pick. That’s important to me. That’s always important because, once the ‘disease of me’ hits people, they’re screwed up. Then they become less of a teammate.

“We learned that about him, that he’s humble and coachable, and cares about his craft. That’s a major plus that allows him to grow and develop.

The biggest fear in starting a rookie at left tackle, especially after two-time Pro Bowl pick Donald Penn moved to the right to make room for Miller, is the big mistake that gets quarterback Derek Carr in trouble. We haven’t seen anything like that off Miller’s edge.

Miller has fared well against the vaunted Rams and Broncos defensive fronts, and gained confidence from those efforts. He believes he already can compete with anyone, knowing full well there’s room for improvement. He’s honed on technique, not emotion or trash talk or who he’s lined up against. Miller is as even-keeled as they come.

“The goal is to be consistently good from week to week,” Miller said. “That’s how players become good and establish themselves in this league.”

Cable believes maintaining this current course could lead to good things.

“Potential is a dangerous word. That said, he’s potentially one of the really special young players in the game,” Cable said. “It will be up to all of us to keep him on the track of growth and development. If he ever makes it about money and outside stuff, it’ll detract him. Knowing him, I think he wants to find out how good he can be. As long as he keeps that mindset, he can be something great.”

Raiders-Dolphins injury report: Rookie P.J. Hall ruled out again

Raiders-Dolphins injury report: Rookie P.J. Hall ruled out again

MIAMI – Injury reports can be lengthy even in the early going. This one advancing Sunday’s clash between the Raiders and Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium is the opposite.

Only three are considered questionable or worse, leaving most impact players available for this Week 3 contest.

Raiders defensive tackle P.J. Hall was ruled out for the second straight game with a sprained ankle. He wasn’t expected to play this game, though head coach Jon Gruden is crossing fingers he can return soon.

“He’s working hard to get it right,” he said Friday. “Hopefully he can return next week. We miss him.”

Nick Nelson showed up on the participation report on Thursday with a hamstring injury limited his workload, though he has been inactive thus far regardless of health.

The Dolphins listed starting safety as questionable with a shoulder injury. He has 10 tackles, two interceptions and two passes defensed already, so losing him would be a blow to Miami’s secondary.

INJURY REPORT

RAIDERS
Out

DT P.J. Hall (ankle)

Questionable
CB Nick Nelson (hamstring)

DOLPHINS
Questionable

S Reshad Jones (shoulder)