ALAMEDA – Connor Cook is practicing in style this week. The Raiders rookie quarterback has been rocking the high shorts, wristbands, hi-tops and compression calf sleeves that, when paired with a silver No. 1 jersey, Cook a looks little bit like Cam Newton. Such homage is a regular occurrence for a scout team quarterback charged with approximating the opposing quarterback.
“It’s been a running thing throughout the whole season,” Cook said. “Whatever team we play, I try to dress up like that guy. … He has the swag in practice, we’re trying have swag like him.”
The look isn’t that tough to copy. Emulating Newton’s won’t be so easy.
Newton’s a hulk at his position, with a 6-foot-5, 245-pound frame that makes him tough to bring down. Combine that with a cannon arm and fleet feet to form a unique talent who has become one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks.
“He’s a championship quality player,” Raiders edge rusher Khalil Mack said. “He’s someone you have to account for. It’s going to be a big challenge for us.”
The league’s reigning MVP poses unique challenges on the Raiders defense, one that has proven at times to be vulnerable to misdirection and play-action. Newton executes both concepts well, with running ability required to make multiple options possible.
Newton has been good, yet less than his Superman self. He has completed 56.5 percent of his passes for 2,168 yards, 11 touchdowns and seven interception. He has also been sacked 25 times and has taken some vicious hits. He has also lost a fumble.
He remains a considerable threat who can take control of a game and never let go. The Raiders have great respect for that.
“He’s in such control of what he’s doing,” Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. “He understands football. He understands his strengths and weaknesses. He’s a really good football player and there’s no question you have to really do your homework. You have to really be disciplined, responsible football to be successful versus this team.”
Part of that is having a solid game plan and get some practice reps against his playing style. That’s no easy task for Cook, who is a much different size and prefers to stay in the pocket.
“Not nearly as big as Cam,” Raiders offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said in jest. “Doesn’t throw nearly as hard. Yet. He’s getting in the weight room and working on that, (laughter). But, our guys are always trying to give the defense a real accurate portrayal and an accurate look. That’s Connor’s role this year, is to prepare the defense to the best of his ability.”