Seen and Heard: Derek Carr taking mental notes about Raiders receivers


Seen and Heard: Derek Carr taking mental notes about Raiders receivers

NAPA – Derek Carr saw Tyrell Williams running out of room in the end zone Saturday during Raiders practice, inching ever closer to the left sideline. Williams was covered but the quarterback threw it anyway, choosing to let his receiver make a play. Williams found a sliver’s separation, caught the expertly thrown pass and tapped both feet in bounds.

While Saturday’s crowd went nuts, Carr made a mental note.

That Williams guy can make some tough catches. And keep his feet in bounds.

If a receiver gets enough Carr points, trust level goes up and they get golden opportunities in regular-season games.

“That’s what goes on in my head,” Carr said after practice. “I think, ‘He has a cornerback, 1-on-1, let’s find out how he handles it.’ This is the time to find out, and Tyrell has consistently done things like that. I think everyone that’s been at practice is seeing Tyrell not just as a No. 2 receiver. He can easily take the featured role and be a 100-catch, 1,000-yard guy.”

Carr showed trust in several receivers, throwing aggressive darts to Williams, Keelan Doss and Marcell Ateman on consecutive reps in a red-zone drill. The receivers made a big play, respectively, each time. Every one was good for six points.

Williams, however, has been this camp’s star receiver every day with Antonio Brown out.

Carr likened his developing trust in Williams to that he established with Andre Holmes, and he regulary would throw it up and let the big-bodied receiver go make a play in tight games.

“What you will see is, the more times he’s making that play in games, 1-on-1, down the field, the more you are going to see me just let it rip,” Carr said. “Hopefully not as Favre-ish, maybe not with three guys on him, but more calculated I guess. Tyrell is a guy that you definitely flick a switch when you see a certain look and you saw it happen in practice, ‘Oh yeah, here you go buddy. Here’s your chance.’”

Carr gives shots to those who earn them, not those who burn him.

“I tell my receivers every day, 'I’m always going to give you a chance until you prove me wrong,'” Carr said. “And then, once you prove me wrong, it just won’t happen again because that football is just way too valuable to give to the other team.”

Kid gets his ball back

Ateman’s red-zone touchdown reception came in the back of the south end zone, near a tent full of Raiders season-ticket holders. Ateman ended up celebrating his score next to the partition between players and fans, and handed the football to a little boy in the front row.

The crowd cheered. A Raiders equipment assistant came over and retrieved the football, exactly as he’s supposed to, and got booed for it. An official came back and returned the ball to the boy a few plays later, doing right by the fan and his family.

Drone overhead

The “Hard Knocks” crew flew a drone low over Raiders practice, as they’re allowed to do while filming the documentary show that will aur on HBO. Rocks surely would’ve been thrown at it had any other entity been spying on practice.

More celebrities at Raiders camp

Pop/rock singer Alexander DeLeon, lead signer of The Cab and a popular solo act often under the name Bohnes, was in Raiders camp Saturday with his family and fiancée Josephine Skriver, a Victoria’s Secret supermodel. DeLeon and Skriver frequently travel to Raiders road games and are among the team’s most prominent die-hard fans. “Hard Knocks” followed them around after practice, while they met with several of their friends on the team.

Let’s have some 1-on-1s!

Coach Jon Gruden went away from his practice script midway through Saturday’s practice without pads, saying, “Hey Pauly [Guenther], let’s have some 1-on-1s!” He paired weakside linebackers up against running backs in a passing drill, which the rushers controlled easily.

Josh Jacobs got by Tahir Whitehead in the flat, while DeAndre Washington badly juked Brandon Marshall for an easy catch-and-run. Doug Martin got a step on Nick Morrow, but the intended pass was overthrown a smidge.

[RELATED: Why Carr isn't worried about AB's training-camp absence]

More on-field action

-- A.J. Cole had quite a day in the punting battle, with several attempts with long hang times that flew high and deep. It was his second straight quality showing as he tried to take the punting job from Johnny Townsend.

-- Carr was locked in all practice, throwing darts all over the field in what might’ve been his best session yet. He was decisive and aggressive, yet always put his receivers in position to make plays.

-- Tight end Darren Waller missed practice with a reported shoulder sprain. The Raiders were down to three healthy tight ends, with Paul Butler also missing time. Defensive linemen Gabe Wright, Quinton Bell and Eddie Vanderdoes were also out on Saturday.

-- The Raiders signed running back Mack Brown and waived guard Lukayus McNeil.

Derek Carr details what must get fixed to reignite Raiders offense

Derek Carr details what must get fixed to reignite Raiders offense

ALAMEDA – The Raiders stink. They’re a terrible team after blowout losses against the Jets and Chiefs despite being truly amazing just over a fortnight’s past, when they were coming off a three-game winning streak that made them NFL darlings and a resurgent playoff contender.

That’s the same team we’re talking about, One coming off dramatically different results that have a once confident fan base pulling its hair out heading into Sunday’s vital matchup against the Tennessee Titans.

A win against them at Oakland Coliseum and all is right in the world (again). Lose and it’s apocalypse now.

“I’m excited we get a chance to go compete against a really good football team,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “That’s the beautiful thing about this game. You rewind two weeks ago, we were the greatest story in the NFL and two weeks later we suck again, so I think we’ll be alright. (laughter) We are just going to keep grinding. We’re going to stick to what we do.”

Carr admits they’ll have to do better, especially on offense. The passing game is stuck in neutral, revving its engine without moving an inch.

That’s large part receiver issues – Jon Gruden says he’s shaking up that position group this week – and some lackluster quarterback play with two pick-sixes in the last two games. Can’t have that, plain and simple. The Raiders can’t afford the penalty issues plaguing them recently. They can’t afford the nine-quarter touchdown drought that stretched from the Bengals game through the Jets contest and deep into the Chiefs embarrassment. The Raiders beat the Bengals but have been outscored 74-21 in two losses since.

“We’ve had a rough two weeks,” Carr said. “I’ve had a rough two weeks. It’s time to get back on track, it’s time to get back in our stadium, it’s time to be efficient on offense, it’s time to win. I’m excited we get a chance to go compete against a really good football team.”

The Raiders' offense must find a groove after hitting a rough patch, but let’s not forget this unit posted 24 or more points for six straight weeks. They can get going again by finding old magic. The key, Carr says, is staying on schedule and staying balanced. They have to start strong – they aren’t built to overcome large deficits – and avoid major mistakes.

[RELATED: Carr can't say enough about rookie Jacobs' toughness]

That’s how the Raiders did it before. That’s how they can do it again.

“Our execution has not been good enough at all,” Carr said. “Like executing the plays to every detail hasn’t been good enough at all. Turning the ball over myself. I don’t do that. I don’t want to do that. Never been something I’ve wanted to do or been a part of my game and so it doesn’t matter how it happened or why it happened, it happened, and we have to eliminate the turnovers and that starts with me.”

Johnathan Hankins loves being leader to young Raiders' defensive line


Johnathan Hankins loves being leader to young Raiders' defensive line

ALAMEDA -- Johnathan Hankins isn’t even 28 years old yet feels like an old man working on the Raiders defensive front. The starting line features two rookies off the edge and a second-year man working next to him inside.

He is an elder statesman in that crew, with plenty of experience in his seventh year out of Ohio State. Hankins is having a blast with a young, developing crew, knowing he must anchor the defensive line and help those around him make plays.

“I’m just trying to do my best to lead the guys,” Hankins said on this week’s Raiders Talk podcast. “I’ve been here longer than most of the guys on this unit, and I try to show them what it takes to be a professional and pass along all the information I learned from the veterans I worked with way back when.”

Hankins is paying it forward now with words and action. His role at defensive tackle often helps create opportunities for others pushing the pocket back and shutting down the opposition’s interior run game.

The Raiders are better in that area thanks in large part to Hankins’ improvement within the system and are certainly thankful last year’s in-season signing has become a permanent fixture upfront.

Hankins was in a weird spot before joining the Raiders last year, cut just a year into a big three-year contract with Indianapolis because the Colts changed defensive schemes.

He found a proper fit in Oakland and was happy to re-up with them this offseason.

“There was a lot going on after I got released by the Colts, and I was trying to find a place that fits well with me and finding an organization that wanted me,” Hankins said. “That’s what it boiled to, and it has really worked out with the Raiders.”

[RELATED: Mullen's confidence grows as he develops on the job]

Hankins considers it destiny that he’s Raiders, the same team name he had as a 6-year old running back and kicker growing up in Detroit and nearby Dearborn, Mich. That’s where he grew (quite literally) into the dominant defensive force that earned an Ohio State scholarship and a second-round NFL draft slot.

“I’m just enjoying this ride,” Hankins said. “I’m trying to be at my best and show everyone watching that I’m still one of the best defensive tackles in this league. The goal is to get to 12 years, and I think I’m on my way.”