Source: Rookie QB Cook expected to start for Raiders in Houston

Source: Rookie QB Cook expected to start for Raiders in Houston

UPDATE (Wednesday morning at 10:35am PT) -- Connor Cook will start against the Texans on Saturday, the Raiders announced.


ALAMEDA – The Raiders haven’t formally announced their starting quarterback for Saturday’s playoff opener against the Houston Texans.

Their intentions aren’t a well-kept secret. Connor Cook is expected to make his first NFL start in the playoffs, something no player in league history has done.

Raiders players discussed that fact on Tuesday, and a league source confirmed it later in the afternoon.

NFL Network first reported Tuesday morning that the Raiders were operating with the expectation Cook would start.

The fourth-round pick out of Michigan State was thrust into action midway through Sunday’s 24-6 loss at Denver after Matt McGloin injured his neck/shoulder.

Having Cook start isn’t just based upon health. Cook fared better that McGloin against Denver, something clear to Raiders coaches after analyzing the game tape.

It’s also uncertain how much McGloin will be able to practice, and the Raiders need to get a quarterback ready to play an important game on a short week.

The Raiders believe Cook is the healthier and better option, one who can get the job done against the Texans. While most haven’t worked with Cook much this regular season, they believe he can execute under the bright lights.

“(Cook) has really worked hard, all the way from training camp,” running back Jalen Richard said. “I would say he’s one of the hardest working rookies on the team. He was working on his craft every day after practice, not knowing when his moment would come.

“Look at him now. His moment is here. I feel like he’s ready for it, and we have all the confidence in him.”

Cook was 14-for-21 for 150 yards passing, one touchdown and an interception. He also fumbled twice and lost one. He also orchestrated the Raiders’ only touchdown drive since Derek Carr broke his right fibula in Week 16. Cook has arm talent and poist in the pocket, which he flashed at times against Denver. 

“I think he did a pretty good job, especially coming in after having not played all year,” receiver Amari Cooper said. “He did a nice job going through his reads and stepping up in the pocket and making some good throws.

“He was really good out there. He was talking us up and making sure we stayed encouraged out there. I really like him.”

The Raiders are expected to start a third different quarterback in as many weeks. Cook faces a difficult task. He will lead the team into the playoffs and the Raiders have to find a way to establish chemistry and a game plan that works for a player who hasn’t seen many practice reps during the regular season. He hadn’t worked with the starting lineup before last week, and ran some plays against Denver he had never practiced.

The Raiders have to make the best of the situation, especially those employed to work in cohesion with the quarterback.

“We have to rally around him,” Cooper said, “and make him confident in us by getting open and things like that.”

Raiders owner Mark Davis thrilled Oakland Coliseum lease was approved

Raiders owner Mark Davis thrilled Oakland Coliseum lease was approved

PHOENIX – The Raiders will spend one more season in Oakland, the final stretch of a prolonged transition from the East Bay to Las Vegas.

It will happen at the Oakland Coliseum, after NFL owners unanimously approved a new lease agreement on Monday at the annual league meeting. It was the last of four approval votes to validate a pact to play 2019 in Oakland.

It brought owner Mark Davis great relief, which was written on his face while speaking with NBC Sports Bay Area in the Arizona Biltmore hotel’s main lobby.

“I won’t work out a stadium lease again in my lifetime,” Davis said with a smile.

His search for a place to play 2019 has been stressful. The Raiders abandoned negotiations with the Oakland Coliseum in December 2018, after Oakland sued the Raiders and the NFL for antitrust violations and breach of contract.

That sent the Raiders searching outside the market, into negotiations with the San Francisco Giants to play at Oracle Park and the undesirable Levi’s Stadium option. They all proved fruitless, sending the Raiders back to work out a deal with the Oakland Coliseum.

Now the Oakland Coliseum deal is done, including a 2020 option to account for unforeseen Las Vegas stadium delays. In short, there’s the clear path to Las Vegas.

Davis is happy to have a place to play until the Raiders debut in the Silver State.

“I think (Raiders president Marc Badain and Raiders general counsel Dan Ventrelle), with both hands tied behind their back, did a really admirable job working with the city (of Oakland) and getting a deal done under tough circumstances,” Davis said. “We’re ready to go.”

Despite pulling his Raiders up and leaving for Las Vegas, Davis still holds affection for the Raiders’ Bay Area fan base, and hopes to honor the team’s past before starting a new chapter in franchise history.

“The main thing here is that we get to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the AFL and the Raiders in the Bay Area, which I was hoping to do all along,” Davis said. “That’s going to be exciting.”

While he’ll look back on his team’s tradition in 2019, Davis is focused on the future and a rapidly progressing stadium in Las Vegas.

“I go by it and water it,” Davis said with a smile. “Then I come back a couple weeks later and it grows.”

[RELATED: Carr's status unchanged with Raiders]

While there have been minor delays, the new venue opening just off the Las Vegas Strip should be ready to host games in Aug. 2020. A state-of-the-art training facility is being built in nearby Henderson, Nevada, and that could be ready around June 2020.

Until then, however, the Raiders have a place to play in Oakland as this long transition comes to a close.

Antonio Brown appears to take shot at Steelers after Mike Tomlin's comments

Antonio Brown appears to take shot at Steelers after Mike Tomlin's comments

There's no love lost between Antonio Brown and the Pittsburgh Steelers. That much is clear.

By now you know the story. The star wide receiver wore out his welcome in the Steel City, demanding to be traded this offseason due to reported issues with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and head coach Mike Tomlin.

Brown got his wish and was traded to the Raiders on March 9, but that doesn't mean he's ready to let bygones be bygones, as the 30-year-old star fired off a cryptic tweet Monday afternoon that was pointed directly at Tomlin and the Steelers.

Confused? We'll explain.

Earlier Monday at the NFL owners meeting, Tomlin gave his first comments since the end of the Steelers' season and he had a few things to say about his former receiver and former running back Le'Veon Bell.

It was a rough offseason for Tomlin, who lost his star receiver and running back and will enter the 2019 season with an aging quarterback and middle of the road defense.

So it's easy to understand why he's a bit salty.

[RELATED: Raiders can benefit from chip on AB's shoulder]

As for Brown, he got exactly what he asked for when the Steelers traded him to Oakland. He got away from Roethlisberger, inked a new contract and the Raiders didn't have to give up the world to acquire the All-Pro receiver.

All that's left for Brown to do is make the Steelers regret the way things unfolded by putting up huge numbers for the Silver and Black in 2019.