OAKLAND – Derek Carr planned to play into the second quarter on Friday night. That’s what the Raiders quarterback had heard, and that was his expectation after his first offensive series.
Head coach Jon Gruden had new new marching orders.
“He just came up to me after that drive and said, ‘I’ve seen enough. You’re good. You’re done,’” Carr said. “I didn’t know that was his plan, or even if it was his plan.”
Maybe it was the sack-fumble Carr took on his final play. More likely, it was simpler than that. Gruden knows Carr will be the unquestioned starter, and he has more pressing concerns evaluating his backups.
Either way, Carr played just seven snaps in a 13-6 victory over Green Bay. He only played six to open the preseason against Detroit and zero last week at the L.A. Rams.
It’s a virtual certainty Carr won’t play a single second in Seattle Thursday night.
“I have seen enough,” Gruden said. “There isn’t much more for me to see.”
Carr has been excellent in training camp. He and Gruden have bonded over a shared work ethic and love of offensive schematics. He has applied Gruden’s teachings well, executing the coaches vision precisely and with great consistency. A few extra preseason snaps won’t change that.
Carr connected on a deep shot to Amari Cooper. It wasn’t a perfect throw, but Cooper high-pointed the ball and gained 49 yards. He just missed Lee Smith on the next play. His best throw came on 3rd-and-7 – a tough situation he hoped to get – a dime to Jared Cook that set up first-and-goal. Carr floated a perfect ball to Cook, who faked a cut inside before breaking outside toward the sideline.
After two runs and that sack, Gruden pulled the plug.
“I wanted to get Connor (Cook) first team all offensive line for a couple series,” Gruden said. “But we have a pretty good idea who our starters are on offense. I was really pleased with Derek on how he started the game.”
Carr was also happy with his work in the short stint.
“It was good to get back out there, complete some passes and have a third down,” Carr said. “I really wanted a tough third down, and we got it. It was good.”
That initial series should conclude Carr’s preseason. If that’s the case, as expected, Carr’s ready to get going Sept. 10 against the Rams.
“It is different because I don't play as much (in this preseason), but we get so many things done in practice,” Carr said. “It's very tough, it's game-like and the kind of things I need to see and feel. Going out there today and being able to get hit a couple times, move in the pocket and find throws was nice.
“You don't need too much of that in the preseason, but just to get a few plays in here and there is good. If we practice at speed the way that we do, I feel that you can go out there in preseason and play a couple plays and be ready for the season."
Carr has found great sync with Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson, starting receivers who also exited after the first series. That provides confidence he doesn’t need any more work, and he’ll go into the regular season primed and ready to produce.
“We get a lot of practice reps, especially the way Coach Gruden designs his practices, it's all around the quarterback,” Carr said. “He's setting it up so I can be the most prepared in his mind, it's not my mind. I feel good about it and if the coach feels good about it, you can guarantee the players feel good about it.
"I feel in good rhythm, I feel in sync with those guys. I have guys that are easy to throw to, they're easy to talk to, so it makes it a lot easier."