Derek Carr’s advice to himself: ‘Don’t press’

Derek Carr’s advice to himself: ‘Don’t press’

ALAMEDA – Derek Carr was quick to take blame for a blowout loss to Washington on national television, though it wasn’t entirely true. Every Raider had a hand in that debacle.

That statement remained the right move for two reasons: 1. That’s what good leaders do, and 2. The franchise quarterback was pretty darn bad. He knows as well as anyone the Raiders struggle when he’s subpar.

That’s a nice way of putting Carr’s performance at Washington. He was 19-of-31 passing for 118 yards, a touchdown, two picks and a 52.9 passer rating. He was sacked four times. His offense went 0-for-11 on third down.

Carr has played this bad before. Last year’s game at Kansas City was pretty close, but not much else outside a rookie season where his team was awful.

Carr doesn’t lay many eggs. That’s why Sunday’s performance left many reaching for answers to what went wrong with their steady signal caller.

David Carr came up with one.

“It was like, how did my brother say it?” Derek Carr said. “An anomaly.”

Carr’s prep didn’t change. The Raiders didn’t have a bad week’s practice. They didn’t get fooled by Washington’s defense. They just got beat. Carr made some bad throws and uncharacteristically poor decisions.

“It was just one of those days where we went out there and it just did not go well,” Carr said. “There was nothing really I could put a finger on except I just have to come back and work harder. Whatever that means, whatever that looks like, whatever I feel throughout the day. Just try to do it better.”

It’s hard for Carr to put in more hours. He did take a long look at that Washington film to dissect errors and how to avoid them. He wanted to see how Washington’s defense was effective, knowing full well the copycats are coming.

“You guys know how prideful of a worker he is,” offensive coordinator Todd Downing said. “He’s worked really hard this week to clean up some things and do his part. That’s permeated our whole offense. Nobody has looked at that game as I said, and thought, ‘Man, I’m really pleased with what I put on tape.’ Everybody from Derek all the way down to quality control coaches has looked for ways to improve. That’s going to be what propels us going forward.”

The desire to erase a bad experience can create unnecessary pressure, and put Carr back into last week’s predicament. Any advice on how to avoid a repeat performance?

“Yeah. I would just say don’t press,” Carr said. “I don’t need to make every play. I always put it on my shoulders. I’m harder on myself than anybody is. Whenever we put a performance out there like that, I told you after the game, everybody played great except me. I just have to know I have to rely on my teammates. I don’t have to do it all.”

A solid rebound would quiet concerns and get Carr’s Raiders back on track. The Bengals or Browns, however, aren’t next on the schedule. Denver’s ready to host an old rival, armed with a physical, brash defense effective at most everything.

Carr has struggled some against Denver, with a 73.5 passer rating and 12 sacks in five games. He has just one over 200 yards against the Broncos. That isn’t atypical considering how good the Broncos have been. There’s plenty of respect, however, coming from the other side.

“I wasn’t even aware of that stat of him having shaky games in Denver,” Broncos edge rusher Von Miller said. “Every time you turn on the film, he’s a great quarterback. His accuracy is through the roof. He’s a smart quarterback, athletic. That’s the franchise, that’s what you’re looking for. When you get a guy like that, you have to hold on to him and that’s what the Raiders did this offseason.”

The Raiders fully expect the Washington game to stand as an outlier at season’s end. Carr understands that, yet wants to respond well right away.

“Anytime, like anybody, you get punched in the mouth, you have to fight back,” Carr saidn. “Obviously, if you got hit, you didn’t do something right, you have to fight back and figure out what it was.”

How rookie Brandon Parker earned respect of Raiders vets right away

How rookie Brandon Parker earned respect of Raiders vets right away

ALAMEDA – The Raiders have high hopes for Brandon Parker. They used a third-round pick thinking the athletic tackle can be a long-term solution on the offensive line.

The North Carolina product wasn’t thinking about the future this spring. Parker was focused on learning a new system, working with new position coach Tom Cable and endearing himself to new teammates.

That last goal isn’t always easy, especially on the offensive line. Rookies are tested and pushed early regardless of position. Offensive linemen want to see you stand up for yourself and protect your own. That is, after all, their primary job description.

Parker did that on the first day of last week’s minicamp, pushed back against defensive lineman Fadol Brown in an exchange that evolved into a post-rep scuffle.

Coaches didn’t love it. It distracted from practice and a two-minute drill. Brown was penalized and ejected from practice for fighting. The offense got some extra yards by penalty and kicking a field goal.

The linemen, however, were pleased to see Parker refusing to back down.

"Brandon stood up for himself,” left guard Kelechi Osemele said. “That was really cool to see. You always want to see that, you worry about a guy’s toughness. He’s a tough kid. He’s been playing well. He’s really intelligent. Really smart.”

Veterans test newbies. Parker made a good impression there.

“That’s a positive impression you want to leave,” Parker said. “You want to show the veterans that you’re not afraid of anything, and they you’ll go to battle with them like they’ll go to battle with you. It’s more a matter of gaining respect than proving you’re the toughest guy out there.”

Scuffles don’t improve your standing with coaches. Studying hard, executing well and flashing athleticism certainly does, especially before the pads come on. That was Parker’s primary objective during the offseason program.

“I think I presented well,” Parker said. “I do a good job retaining information. I didn’t really have a whole lot of mistakes. The first couple days are a whirlwind and a faster pace, but after I got used to it and got my feet wet and started to show the veterans what I can really do, they kind of warmed up to me. It has been a smooth adjustment ever since.”

Parker has had hiccups along the way, including a mistake early in the offseason program. He expected Cable to come up and correct what went wrong. Somebody different came his way quickly.

“I looked back and Donald Penn was there and was one of the first to address me,” Parker said. “Having his experience and (veteran Breno Giacomini) on the team and around to give us technical pointers is great.”

Parker and first-round offensive tackle Kolton Miller received significant work during the offseason program, and were praised for their intelligence and athleticism. There’s plenty of development remaining, but the rookies seem to be off to a good start.

“They’re smart kids. They listen,” center Rodney Hudson said. “They’re learning and working and asking questions, which I think is always important for young guys. To ask questions about where they can do better, and both of those guys do that.”

Watching Geno Atkins has Maurice Hurst excited to earn role in Guenther's defense


Watching Geno Atkins has Maurice Hurst excited to earn role in Guenther's defense

ALAMEDA – Maurice Hurst is familiar with Paul Guenther’s defensive scheme and his role in it. That knowledge didn’t originate from the Raiders offseason program, or sleepless post-draft nights studying the playbook.

Hurst studied it first at the University of Michigan, focusing on one of planet Earth’s best at his position.

“I’ve been watching Geno Atkins since I was in college,” Hurst said Wednesday. “He’s always someone I’ve had my eye on.”

The veteran Cincinnati Bengal is an elite defensive tackle both stopping the run and pressuring quarterbacks as a three technique, working a scheme Guenther coordinated the last four seasons. Hurst shares similar size, traits and explosiveness off the ball, making Atkins a proper athletic role model. He's a good one, with 61 sacks and six Pro Bowls to his credit.

Time watching Hurst was extremely well spent. The Raiders drafted Hurst in the fifth round – a health issue torpedoed this first-round talent’s draft stock – and paired him with Guenther, who came to Alameda this offseason to coordinate Jon Gruden’s defense.

The Raiders certainly hope Hurst can be like Geno in time, because a dominant interior pass rusher is vital to Guenther’s scheme.

“(Atkins is) strong and he’s fast,” Hurst said. “Those traits translate well in the NFL. He’s able to be very disruptive and get after the quarterback. The three technique is the penetrator of our defense. You have to have someone like Geno to make the defense go. That’s a major part of Coach Guenther's scheme, and why he brought in me and (second-round defensive tackle) P.J. Hall. We have Mario (Edwards). We have a good group of guys who can do what he expects us to do.”

Hurst has immersed himself in Guenther’s scheme since joining the Silver and Black. The Michigan man prides himself on scheme study and proper application in practice, but his head start may have helped. Having an inside man didn’t hurt. Fellow Wolverines defensive lineman Ryan Glasgow was drafted by Cincinnati last season and watched film with Hurst during the offseason.

“I had a pretty good idea of what the defense was like and what coach was expecting,” Hurst said, “from watching film with Ryan and talking to him on FaceTime.”

Hurst likes Guenther’s scheme, and his possible role playing three technique – lining up off the guard’s outside shoulder – for the Raiders.

“It definitely gets me amped up,” Hurst said. “The Bengals, their best player was their three technique. That’s the focal point of their defense, and that’s what Coach Guenther is used to getting, and what he has got his whole time in the NFL (with Atkins). He drafted Geno, and it says something for him drafting me and P.J. I think he expects a lot from us and expects us to fill that role he had with the Bengals.”

Hurst and Hall join Edwards as interior linemen with pass-rush ability. It’s unfair to heap expectations on a rookie and the Raiders won’t, but there’s optimism Hurst will make an instant impact.

He can’t make one right now – he hasn’t put pads on as a Raider – but believes he made a solid first impression during the now concluded offseason program.

“I handle those situations pretty well,” Hurst said. “I try to keep my knowledge of the game up, and I’m always on top of my plays. I’m making sure I always stay true to myself and stay true to the game by working hard and putting in a lot of effort. That’s what can set you apart, being reliable.”