How Derek Carr played 'inspiring' football in Raiders' season-opening win

How Derek Carr played 'inspiring' football in Raiders' season-opening win

OAKLAND – Derek Carr’s a sucker for Raiders fans seeking autographs. The Silver and Black quarterback will stop and chat pre-game signing everything from everyone until the Sharpie runs out.

Not on Monday night.

He never stopped moving toward the Oakland Coliseum tunnel, diverting focus only to throw a wristband toward the crowd and make sure the intended kid got it.

After that, it was right back to business. Carr brought his game face in from the parking lot, showing straight focus and determination from beginning to end as he led the Raiders to a 24-16 victory over the Denver Broncos.

It was a masterful performance conducted right on the edge, balancing intensity with focus to keep his passion from turning white-hot.

Those trapped in the moment will say Carr was anger-fueled, upset by Antonio Brown’s departure for New England. The superstar receiver took up so much bandwidth all spring and summer, with so much dramatic flare that he remained the primary focus surrounding a team he no longer represents.

Thinking Carr’s motivation comes from Brown is incredibly shortsighted. It’s about an offseason’s worth of criticism from talking heads questioning his toughness and desire. It’s about those believing the Raiders should draft a quarterback high, and abandon their homegrown talent with years left on his contract.

It’s about evolving in his second year under head coach Jon Gruden, someone he works with well despite thoughts they pair like oil and water. It’s about asserting himself, quieting the people pleaser inside while letting the confident field general speak out.

“He played great tonight,” Gruden said. “I don’t know what the stats are, but he did a lot more for our team than complete a lot of passes. He made some great audibles to protect the ball. He was inspiring, leading the team on the sideline, and I thought he was really good.”

Carr’s stats weren’t half bad. He completed 22-of-26 passing for 259 yards and a score. That breaks down to 10 yards per attempt. That’s, you know, pretty good.

“We saw him complete 78 percent last year in some really, really tough situations,” Gruden said. “We think his potential is really off the charts. We just got to do a good job of coaching and got to try and surround him with a lot of good players and coach him. He’ll be fine.”

Carr won’t hand himself gold stars after a job well done. He’ll critique what went wrong as he continues to refine his game.

“I'm going to watch my footwork. I'm going to watch my eyes. I'm not into how many passes I completed, I'm into the ones I did miss,” Carr said. “Why did I miss them? And how can I do that better? That's what, out of the 80 or 90 percent, what's the 10 or 20 percent that I missed on? Tell me that, and I'll get better. That's what I'm into.

"That's why I love our coaches, because they'll get on me for those things."

Carr said during training camp that he was quarterbacking at his highest level, building off a strong 2018 season with several superlatives but few wins to show for it. He’ll keep critiquing and improving, demanding more from those around him as he has all summer.

He’s even suggesting plays to Gruden, calling them himself a few times late when his helmet radio went out.

[RELATED: Grading Raiders' offense, defense in Week 1 win vs. Broncos]

“Derek was outstanding, definitely in command,” tight end Darren Waller said. “He was putting throws on the money. He had that calm presence in the huddle, checking things at the line. Derek was Derek tonight in my opinion.”

Derek Carr was himself on the field Monday night, but an updated version that is fiery, relentless and in complete control.

Raiders injury report: Lamarcus Joyner 'questionable at best' vs Bengals


Raiders injury report: Lamarcus Joyner 'questionable at best' vs Bengals

ALAMEDA – The Raiders emerged from their miniature bye week with nearly a full squad. That doesn’t mean they came out of Thursday night’s victory over the L.A. Chargers healthy.

Not by a long shot.

Starting strong safety Karl Joseph was placed on injured reserve on Friday, a brutal loss for an opportunistic unit.

He won’t return again this season. Slot cornerback Lamarcus Joyner might at some point, but it isn’t expected right away. The starting slot cornerback and defensive mainstay missed Wednesday’s practice with a hamstring injury that could keep him out a little bit.

It seems highly unlikely he’ll be able to play Sunday against Cincinnati, a point solidified by Raiders head coach Jon Gruden.

He said Joyner is “questionable at best” versus the Bengals, making it highly likely we’ll see Nevin Lawson in the slot with Daryl Worley as a Plan B. That also means we may see more three linebacker sets, considering Joyner would often remain on the field during some running downs where the offensive formation wasn’t particularly heavy.

The rest of the 53-man roster was working. That included defensive end Josh Mauro, who missed Thursday’s game with a groin strain. He was limited alongside four others.

That list includes center Rodney Hudson and right tackle Trent Brown, though both guys should go against the Bengals. Running back Josh Jacobs and reserve offensive tackle David Sharpe were also limited to some degree in a Wednesday workout that is more of a walk-through in the current Raiders practice schedule.

Here’s the full Raiders participation report:

Raiders practice report

Did not practice
CB Lamarcus Joyner (hamstring)

Limited practice
RB Josh Jacobs (shoulder)
OT Trent Brown (knee)
C Rodney Hudson (ankle)
DE Josh Mauro (groin)
OT David Sharpe (calf)

Full practice
WR Dwayne Harris (foot)
LB Tahir Whitehead (shoulder)

Raiders give Dion Jordan what could be final shot to realize potential


Raiders give Dion Jordan what could be final shot to realize potential

ALAMEDA -- For Dion Jordan, the past seven years haven't gone as planned. But now a Raiders, Jordan is certain he's where he is supposed to be. 

"It all just fell in place, man," Jordan said Wednesday after practice. "I feel like every day or every hour that I've been here, I'm reminded that I made the right decision. I'm just very thankful that it happened the way it did. There's no stress on me. It's all football."

It hasn't been all football for Jordan thus far in his career. 

Jordan was reinstated by the NFL on Tuesday after serving a 10-game suspension for Adderall. He had a therapeutic exemption to use the drug for his ADHD, but it expired and Jordan took the medication anyway. 

That suspension was just the latest speedbump in what many thought would be a promising career.  

Drafted with the No. 3 overall pick by the Miami Dolphins in 2013, the Oregon product struggled to make an impact during his first two seasons in Miami. Jordan totaled just three sacks and seven quarterback hits in his first 26 games, 

Before the 2014 season, Jordan received a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy. He violated the policy again in September of 2014, receiving an additional two-game ban. A diluted urine sample during the following offseason gave Jordan his third strike for violating the policy and he was suspended for the entire 2015 season. While reinstated before the 2016 season, Jordan did not play a down of football and was cut by the Dolphins in March of 2017 after failing a physical. 

Still loaded with potential, Jordan was signed by the Seahawks and played five games for Seattle in 2017, notching four sacks and 10 tackles. He played 12 more games for the Seahawks in 2018. 

Now, Jordan joins a Raiders team in need of pass rush help after Arden Key went down with a broken foot. He's still just 29 years old. Still filled with the talent that tantalized the Dolphins to trade up with the Raiders to make him the highest Duck drafted since Joey Harrington in 2002. 

Jordan spent his suspension working out in San Francisco. He's in the best shape of his life --- down to eight percent body fat -- and turned down a few offers from other teams to stay by his support system and help a Raiders team that has its eyes on the playoffs

"The same thing I bring everywhere: Just effort," Jordan said about what he brings to the Raiders. "Effort and the will to want to win. I know that's what this organization's all about and I'm just trying to be apart of that." 

Jordan starred as both a tight end and a defensive end at Chandler High School in Arizona and was the No. 10 tight end in the country coming out of high school. After redshirting in 2008, Jordan made the switch permanently from tight end to defensive end in 2010. During his final three seasons at Oregon, Jordan recorded 119 tackles, 29 tackles for loss and 14.5 sacks. 

He had some great moments at Oregon, but never took over games the way top draft picks are expected to. There was some surprise when he shot up draft boards and was taken at No. 3 overall.

The talent was never the issue. But can he put everything together and realize his potential? 

Jon Gruden hopes Jordan, with a support system around him, will become everything so many teams thought he would while he was laying the wood in Eugene. But it's on Jordan, not the Raiders, to make that happen. 

"They extended the offer for me to come here, that was it," Jordan said of what the Raiders must do to help him be what he has the talent to become. "I feel like the environment and the people that [Gruden] set up around this place is proven that I have that opportunity [to reach his potential]. It's all up to me like it is with everything else. It's up to the individual, it's up to me to go out there and work hard at practice, dive into the playbook and to treat people with respect and type of loyalty and love that they deserve."

Jordan joins a young and talented defensive line that is coming into its own after a Thursday night win over the Chargers. Rookies Clelin Ferrell and Maxx Crosby have been tasked with leading the pass-rush unit. Ready to hit the ground running, Jordan feels like this unit suits what he brings to the table.

"A lot of young guys who just know how to go," Jordan said of his new teammates. " I feel like I fit right in with these dudes. That's how I play. I just go."

[RELATED: Seven prospects for Raiders to target with Bears' high pick]

Jordan has his support system, one the Raiders are helping him with. He's ready to help his new team in any way, shape or form. The Silver and Black need another pass rusher. Ferrell, Crosby and Benson Mayowa have a lot on their shoulders, and Jordan, a No. 3 overall pick, has the talent to step in and create havoc in the backfield. 

He's no longer expected to be the defensive cornerstone the Dolphins drafted him to be. He's just here to play a role. 

But he's happy to be given an opportunity to put on a helmet and go to work every day. To dive into the Raiders' playbook, stick his hand in the dirt on Sundays and be apart of a playoff push. 

The expectations that come with being a high draft pick still follow him. Maybe because he puts them on himself. Maybe because the talent and potential still are there.

He's in a good place mentally and physically. He's back playing the game he loves, is ready to seize an opportunity afforded only to those with immense talent and make the most of what might be his final opportunity to become what many believed he would when his name was called in 2013.