DENVER – Raiders quarterback Connor Cook hasn’t been getting many practice reps this year. No. 3 signal callers get scraps, with most work going to starter Derek Carr and primary backup Matt McGloin.
Cook was being groomed for the future. Then Carr broke a fibula last week. Then McGloin hurt his shoulder in the second quarter of Sunday’s 24-6 loss to the Denver Broncos.
Then Cook under center in a game to decide the AFC West. It’s also possible he’ll start a playoff game next week. Talk about a trial by fire.
Cook played nine series against the Broncos, and was 14-for-21 passing for 150 yards, a touchdown, an ill-advised interception and a lost fumble while under duress.
There were good moments and rookie mistakes for the fourth-round pick from Michigan State in his first NFL action.
“It was fast,” Cook said. “Obviously, going the whole week not getting a lot of reps and just being thrown out there. It’s just the name of the game. When you’re playing the quarterback spot, if one man goes down then it’s next man up. I was frustrated I didn’t get out there and get some reps. I was trying to get the timing down with the receivers, but it didn’t go the way we wanted it to go.
“Any time you go out there and get some reps, you get a little confidence going and get experience, it’s going to help you out in the future.”
That’s important, because he might have to be ready for the franchise’s biggest game in years. The Raiders travel to Houston next weekend for the playoff opener, and McGloin’s shoulder/neck injury may prevent him from making that start.
That would set up Cook to start his first NFL game in the playoffs.
Cook says he won’t change his preparation next week with a greater possibility he could start.
“I’m going to do what I’ve been doing all year,” Cook said. “When I was inactive, I was still watching film and still studying the game plan and going over everything – my reads, my hots and all that. It’s not going to change anything for me. I’m going to still prep as if I’m playing, it doesn’t matter if I’m backup, starter or whatever.”
Additional practice reps could certainly help. On Sunday, he was running some plays for the first time.
“It’s not getting a whole lot of reps and just being thrown out there and running plays that I’ve never really ran before,” Cook said. “Working on those during the week, getting extra reps and extra practice on those plays I think can help out.”
Cook represented himself well despite adverse circumstances, and his teammates tried to rally around him.
“I thought he did a good job considering it was his first time out there,” center Rodney Hudson. “Experience is the best teacher, and I’m sure he’ll get better and learn from this game.