Raiders

Raiders QB Derek Carr quiets doubts with historic accuracy vs. Broncos

Raiders QB Derek Carr quiets doubts with historic accuracy vs. Broncos

DENVER -- Derek Carr was at his best Sunday against the Denver Broncos. His best is pretty freaking good.

The Raiders quarterback was awesome all game, completing 29 of 32 passes for 288 yards and one touchdown at Broncos Stadium at Mile High. He’s the only quarterback in NFL history to complete 90 percent of his passes with more than 30 attempts, per ESPN.

Carr was decisive and accurate with his throws Sunday, and he led the Raiders offense well.

“I thought Derek Carr played great today,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden said. “He’s a great player, I think he’s going to be an outstanding player. I look forward to the days ahead. Hopefully there are several (good ones).”

The coach and the quarterback didn’t revel in a job well done. The final score didn’t permit that. A tough 20-19 loss ruined the mood, though there were plenty of encouraging signs about the Raiders offense’s performance.

Carr moved the ball extremely well through the air and rarely let it touch the ground, but he said he didn’t feel any more locked-in than he recently has.

“I’m not going to lie to you, I have felt last week and this week like I have all offseason. There’s no being in a zone,” Carr said. “I’m just trying to run Coach Gruden’s plays to the best of my ability, the exact way he wants it done. … I wish I had something better for you, but I just feel like we are executing the way we should.”

Carr took some heat after throwing three interceptions in a loss to the Los Angeles Rams, where his decision-making was called into question. Carr said he didn’t listen to criticism on social media or in the press, and he shut that storyline down Sunday. He proved his decision-making is just fine, thank you, and he can push the ball downfield with pace when required.

“Derek was great,” said receiver Amari Cooper, who led the Raiders with 10 catches for 116 yards. “He was very accurate with the ball, and made a ton of plays.”

Leading his team to victory is the primary objective. Nay, the only one.

Carr didn’t check that box, but he's clearly growing within Gruden’s system. That ultimately should help the bottom line as the season continues.

Carr refuses to let results, personal or team-related, pull focus from the grind.

“We’re going to have days where I throw three picks or I’m going to throw [for] five touchdowns. I’ve done both,” Carr said. “We have to play level-headed and, as a team, stay together, push forward and grind this week in practice. There’s no other recipe for getting better. That’s how we have to do it. We need to learn as a team through this experience and, next time we’re in that spot, finish the game.”

C.J. Anderson, cut by Raiders earlier in season, helps Rams reach Super Bowl

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AP

C.J. Anderson, cut by Raiders earlier in season, helps Rams reach Super Bowl

What a wild ride for C.J. Anderson.

The Cal alum went from being released by the Raiders -- the team he grew up rooting for in Richmond, Calif. -- to leading the Rams to the Super Bowl in a month's time.

For the fourth consecutive game Sunday, Anderson led L.A. in rushing (44 yards on 16 carries), this time in the NFC Championship, which the Rams won 26-23 over the Saints in overtime.

Anderson now has rushed for 466 yards in four games since joining L.A. He had 167, 132 and 123 yards in his previous three contests with the team.

But this season wasn't always gravy for Anderson. Before signing with the Rams, here's how his season was going: released by the Carolina Panthers after nine games, then signed and released by the Raiders after five days in Week 15.

Anderson signed with the Raiders on Dec. 4 in what appeared to be an East Bay homecoming. Like the rest of the team's season, nothing was that perfect. 

“I grew up in the Coliseum,” Anderson said at the time of his signing. “I came to a lot of games, screaming chants and all that. I know all about the history.”

The Raiders released him before he even wore the Silver and Black in a game. His mom is such a fan of the team that she once rooted against her own son when he played on the Broncos against the Raiders. 

That probably isn't the case anymore.

2019 Senior Bowl: Raiders should keep eye on several safety prospects

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AP

2019 Senior Bowl: Raiders should keep eye on several safety prospects

There’s talented youth at several spots in the Raiders secondary. Gareon Conley looks like the real deal, and should be a long-term solution at cornerback.

Daryl Worley’s a restricted free agent, but is expected to return. He plays the physical coverage Paul Guenther prefers, and will continue to develop at such a young age. Nick Nelson’s in the mix for a slot cornerback slot as well entering his second season, though some depth/competition’s required there.

Karl Joseph made great strides toward the end of last season, and could play an important, physical role for coaches who can play to his strengths and minimize effects of a lack of height.

A ballhawk safety’s missing from the crew. Or, even better yet, a versatile player who can man several spots as a safety.

[RELATED: Raiders defensive depth chart: Upgrades mandatory at several key spots]

That’s why the Raiders must be thrilled to have Delaware’s Nasir Adderley on the Senior Bowl’s North squad. Jon Gruden and staff are coaching that side, and will get a long look at him during the practice week.

The Raiders will keep a close eye on their safeties and some on the South side, as they try to decide whether to draft one or signed a veteran in free agency. There’s a vacancy in the secondary, and there are some top safety options at the Senior Bowl.

Will one of these guys below fill it?

Nasir Adderley, Delaware, 5-11, 200 pounds
Adderley will be watched closely during Senior Bowl week to see if his performance against big-school competition matches excellent game tape from his career at Delaware. Analysts say he has great range, plays aggressive and physical and can play everywhere including single-high safety.

He has experience playing cornerback as well and can cover most receiving positions well. He can take on blocks and tackle well, and always hustles. That sounds like a coach’s dream.

Might the Raiders find a spot for him with one of their higher picks? An early selection will be required if he impresses, as expected, during the pre-draft process.
Projected: Early rounds

Marquis Blair, Utah, 6-2, 195
This big safety can really run and shows great range in the open field, something the Raiders could use in their secondary. He’ll have to show well for Gruden’s North squad at the Senior Bowl, especially in man coverage and in making plays on the ball while playing a deep safety.

He’s an intriguing talent worth watching.
Projected: Middle rounds

Darnell Savage, Maryland, 5-11, 191
Savage is on the North squad during Senior Bowl week, and will have no problem flashing athleticism. He has that in spades. He has to show good decision making playing deep, an issue when he was at school.

He can be a heavy hitter as well, but has to show restraint at times to make a proper play over a spectacular one.
Projected: Middle rounds

There are two safeties from the 49ers’ South squad worth keep an eye on, as talents who could go higher in the draft:

Juan Thornhill, Virginia, 6-1, 195
This high IQ safety plays disciplined and smart football, which helped him collect six interceptions and seven passes defensed in 2018. He has experience playing cornerback as well, and can be versatile weapon.

His media draft evaluations vary, but the Raiders will get to see him up close at the Senior Bowl.
Projected: Early, middle rounds

Johnathan Abram, Mississippi State 6-0, 210 pounds
He’s more of an enforcer than an attractive deep safety. He is solid playing in the box, but might be a bit too close to Joseph’s skill set to draw strong interest unless the Raiders are looking for an upgrade there.
Projected: Early, iddle rounds