Derek Carr

Derek Carr has shown mastery of Jon Gruden’s scheme in short time

Derek Carr has shown mastery of Jon Gruden’s scheme in short time

Jon Gruden heaps responsibility on his quarterback. That’s true of most NFL schemes, but the Raiders head coach challenges his signal callers know all the terminology and concepts and adjustments and variables built into most every play.

He tests them constantly, changing defensive looks in practice, forcing quarterbacks to recall details on call in front of team meetings. It’s hard to handle by design.

Few can handle it well. Rich Gannon was one. Derek Carr is another.

The Raiders current franchise quarterback’s comprehension rate and recall under pressure has been welcome, but his insatiable desire for more might impress Gruden most.

“I think he’s one of the best, in terms of processing information,” Gruden said. “I think he craves new things. He wants more… ‘What do we have today? What are we doing today? What’s new? What do we got?’ He has a photographic memory. It comes so easy to him. He’s got the offense mastered more than I do.”

That last part’s hyperbole, but his exaggeration’s meant to make a point. Carr is pushing hard to get Gruden’s scheme down cold and apply its rules like his coach would.

Carr’s mastery is evident in practice, where he seems in complete control of the first unit. That has combined with his arm strength, quick release and accuracy that gives many confidence Carr will thrive this regular season and beyond working with Gruden. It might not have come quite so easy.

“There’s a lot of hard work for sure, a lot of hours spent trying to master it,” Carr said. “You think like he thinks, which has been fun and interesting for me to learn.

“In order to do that, the time you have to put in is a lot. It’s a lot. And both of us worked really hard on getting on the same page. I think we’re always going to continue to grow together and think about things differently and then figure it out. The main thing is when we hit the field, that’s us, that’s what he and I are putting on the field, the product at the same time. We didn’t want it to look like we’ve only been together for a short period of time. We wanted it to look like these guys have been around each other, it seems, like forever.”

Carr and Gruden have come a long way in a relatively short time. Learning a system like this takes time and includes several stages, starting with root concepts and terminology. The quarterback said the early days were spent cramming for a test, memorizing a ton early on. Gruden is constantly teaching new things, but continues to review and repeat to help quarterbacks learn.

“He does a great job, his teaching, progression for quarterbacks, the system, every single day he’ll hit on the new things but he’ll always remind you of what we did the past couple days,” Carr said. “So, you’re hitting it about seven to eight times before you really move on, to where it really becomes repetition and you become used to it.

“It has been a lot of work to get to the point to where it’s not just, ‘yeah, I memorized something on a paper.’ Well, I have to memorized every detail of it, and then know it inside and out and still know the defense inside and out and how do we beat it, how do we get to certain things? Initially, it was just, ‘what can I remember?’ As you continue to reference it and go back over it, it just becomes who we are.”

Derek Carr, Raiders' starting offense makes cameo in preseason opener

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USATSI

Derek Carr, Raiders' starting offense makes cameo in preseason opener

OAKLAND – Derek Carr didn’t play in last year’s preseason opener. No sense in the Raiders' franchise quarterback risking injury in a game that ranks low even among those that don’t really count.

Carr ran through the tunnel Friday night, started 2018’s first preseason game against the Detroit Lions and got out no worse health wise.

His drive didn’t include a first down and ended in a punt, but the Raiders tried a diverse play selection in their first game action of the year.

He was 2-for-4 for 11 yards, and should thank Jordy Nelson for breaking up a seemingly surefire interception.

Carr took a deep shot to Martavis Bryant that fell incomplete, found Nelson on the game’s opening play and worked with Amari Cooper in the slot.

The series seemed set to end in a score, but Marshawn Lynch’s 60-yard touchdown was called back due to a holding call against first-round rookie left tackle Kolton Miller. The hold was clear, and sprung the big run.

Carr gave way to Connor Cook and most of the starting offense did not return, save Miller and right tackle Ian Silberman. Both guys need the work, considering neither player has taken a regular-season snap at tackle.

The crew exited without an obvious injury, the only positive that matters this time of year.

Most starting defenders played at least two series, but the defensive debut was productive. The Lions were forced to punt after second-round defensive tackle P.J. Hall sacked Matt Cassel on 3rd-and-5, providing an interior rush lacking in recent seasons.

Also, safety Marcus Gilchrist, cornerback Gareon Conley and edge rusher Arden Key were among the first-team regulars who didn’t participate in the preseason opener.

Raiders camp report: Peyton Manning joins Gruden, Carr for practice day

Raiders camp report: Peyton Manning joins Gruden, Carr for practice day

NAPA – The Raiders had an extra guy in their Thursday morning quarterback meeting.

Derek Carr, EJ Manuel and Connor Cook were the usual suspects. Peyton Manning was the new kid.

The future Hall of Fame quarterback, commonly considered among the best passers of all time, joined Raiders work as Jon Gruden’s guest.

The pair have known each other a long time now, so Manning felt comfortable asking to come on in. He had a speaking engagement in San Francisco Friday and was looking for a football fix. Gruden obviously encouraged the visit, had Manning speak to the team, join a meeting and watch practice from the field.

“I’m not a coach, but I enjoy sitting in meetings,” Manning said after Thursday’s practice. “If they have a question about a no huddle offense or calling audibles, I’ll answer as best I can. You’re always paying it forward, but I let them approach me first.”

Carr took full advantage of the resource.

“Absolutely. Peyton is one of my favorite all time,” Carr said. “He’s one of the best to ever play the game. Just to pick his mind, see some things that we think the same on, see some things that he’s seen over the years that he can add to help me and my preparation and whatever we’re doing on the field. I took full advantage of today, after whatever drill I would go, ‘Hey, how was communication? How was execution?’ And he’d give us feedback. To have that from someone like Peyton, I think that’s kind of invaluable.”

Manning and Carr share an insatiable work ethic and commitment to the craft. Add Gruden to that group. The football junkie became fast friends with Manning during his time as a broadcaster. They would meet at Manning’s house before Gruden broadcast one of his games, and frequently met up during the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

He could tell even years ago that Gruden would return to coaching. It was a calling, and Gruden couldn’t stay out forever.

“Being a football junkie, Jon and I speak the same language,” Manning said. “I know he’s happy, and I think it’s good for football that he’s back in the game.”

Woodson likes Gruden 2.0

Manning wasn't the only legendary former player in attendance Thursday. Charles Woodson was in Napa promoting his wines, so he stopped by to see Gruden, Raiders owner Mark Davis and Manning.

He was asked about Gruden and noticeable differences between this camp and those when he played under the coach. One thing stood out that showed Gruden’s hip with the young kids.

“Everybody’s talking about Gruden being out of the game, out of touch,” Woodson said. “Actually, he’s not. He has a DJ out here at practice. I think he’s fitting right in.”

Many happy returns (to practice)

Several ailing Raiders returned to practice on Thursday. Running back Jalen Richard (calf), receiver Martavis Bryant (illness), tight end Derek Carrier and defensive end Fadol Brown returned to practice after brief stints on the shelf.

Gareon Conley (hip) and offensive tackle Brandon Parker (undisclosed) remained out, joining PUP designees Donald Penn (foot) and Eddie Vanderdoes (knee) working on the side.

Erik Harris broke a finger on Wednesday but practiced fully with the injury.

Right guard Gabe Jackson left practice early, though it’s uncertain why he did. No coaches were available to the press on Thursday.

This ‘n that

Rookie receiver Marcell Ateman is adept using his big body to wall off coverage and make catches downfield, as he has done routinely during camp. …Receiver Griff Whalen had a nice one-handed touchdown catch in red-zone passing drills. …Jordy Nelson continues to shine in practice, making a few deep catches – one on a bullet thrown from Derek Carr – with the first unit most every day. …CB Antonio Hamilton had the day’s only turnover, with an interception during a 7-on-7 period. …Defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. is quietly having a nice camp, and has bullied linemen with pads on. He cleared two guys out to allow an easy Bruce Irvin sack during pass-rush drills.