Filed for print plus extra practice notes . . .
If TJ Carrie keeps it up, his days of being under the radar are over.
It happened again Monday at Raiders training camp, when Carrie perfectly played a corner route by Andre Holmes during a passing drill, lightly flicking the ball away in the end zone.
Lightly recruited despite playing on a big stage locally for De La Salle High and lasting until the seventh round of the NFL draft out of Ohio University, Carrie has made a habit out of doing something in each of the first four days of practice that has turned the heads of both coaches and teammates.
When Raiders coach Dennis Allen looks at Carrie, he sees Chris Harris, an undrafted free agent from Kansas in 2011 who ended up starting and being named the Broncos breakout player of the year when Allen was defensive coordinator.
“Nobody really knew anything about him, then every day you go out there and he’s making a play that catches your eye,’’ Allen said. “You really don’t think a whole lot about it until its day three, day four, day five, day six and he continues to make plays.’’
With second-year player DJ Hayden sidelined with a stress fracture, Carrie is getting plenty of work. He has a ways to go to be a starter, but Carrie is showing a knack for being a slot corner behind Carlos Rogers and is a candidate to return punts and play on special teams.
“I think the main goal of any rookie is to make the team, and part of that is trying to help the team in all ways possible,’’ Carrie said. “I come in every day knowing I haven’t earned anything and knowing I have something to prove every day. That keeps me motivated.’’
Carrie has leaned heavily on running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who also went to De La Salle and grew up in Antioch. Jones-Drew played with one of Carrie’s brothers in high school and knows the family.
“Typically you see offensive guys stay with offensive guys and defensive guys stay with defensive guys, but he’s really taken me under his wing and showed me the ropes on how I should be attacking the game each day,’’ Carrie said. “He’s helped me with the playbook, what I should do to take care of my body. I feel it gives me an edge.’’
Jones-Drew reached out to Carrie not long after the Raiders selected him with the 219th overall pick.
“We come from the same high school, same city, same area,’’ Jones-Drew said. “I’ve been through some things in my career and I just try and let him learn from my experience, on the field and off.’’
Cornerback Chimdi Chekwa, currently playing as a first-team outside cornerback in the nickel defense, is impressed how Carrie has handled his business.
“He surprised me a little bit,’’Chekwa said. “He came in with a lot of knowledge of the game, and he has the physical attributes to do anything on the field.’’
At 6-foot, 204 pounds, Carrie was first team all-MAC punter and third team on defense. He defensed 36 passes in his career, had three sacks, forced a pair of fumbles. How he wound up at Ohio at all is a mystery to longtime De La Salle defensive coordinator Terry Eidson.
Carrie didn’t play at De La Salle until his senior year because of a medical issue, but made an instant impact after receiving clearance. In a 37-31 win in the CIF Division I state championship game against Centennial, Carrie scored on a 5-yard run, caught a 28-yard touchdown pass and set up another touchdown with a 45-yard interception return.
Eidson began working the phones and got nothing but silence in his home state.
“He had a fantastic season for us and was unbelievable in the state game,’’ Eidson said. “He was a good looking athlete. He had speed, he had size, he had everything. I kept calling people and I was shocked he wasn’t recruited by any of the California schools. It was a steal for Ohio to get him.’
– Wide receiver Rod Streater and tight end Jake Murphy missed practice while recovering from concussions. Wide receiver Greg Little did not finish practice with a hamstring strain, and wide receiver Criner was also out with a hamstring strain. Safety Shelton Johnson was another hamstring casualty, missing practice.
– Hayden’s return appears to be in the distant future.
“He’s able to do some things in the training room,” Allen said. “Again, he’s still out of the boot, but he hasn’t gotten on the field and done any type of football activity, so I think we’re still a little bit to go before we get him out here.”
— The Raiders take today off before returning to practice Wednesday.
– It was another good day for quarterback Matt Schaub, particularly in the red zone. During one sequence, he threw consecutive touchdown passes to Andre Holmes and David Ausberry from 20 yards out. He later had a 5-yard flip to Denarius Moore in a small window over the middle.
– Carrie drew a mild reprimand from an assistant coach when he brought wide receiver James Jones to the ground on a short pass over the middle. With Criner and now little with hamstring pulls, the Raiders can ill afford to lose any more receivers.
– Seth Roberts, a 6-foot-2, 196-pound rookie from West Alabama, has been sure-handed and made some downfield plays causing fans to look at their rosters to see who is wearing no. 85.
– Jones-Drew looked explosive during one sweep and it will be interesting to see if he retains his burst as camp goes along. Darren McFadden has long been a training camp standout, and this year is no different.
– McFadden, however, did have difficulty fielding one kickoff return. He is only one of several players handling kickoffs, with others being Moore, Jones-Drew, Greg Jenkins, James Stewart and Taiwan Jones.
– Although the Raiders are trying different lineups, the best guess at how the defensive front will be aligned in the nickel defense will be with LaMarr Woodley and Khail Mack as outside pass rushers, with Justin Tuck and Antonio Smith inside.
– Allen believes the transition of free agent acquisition Austin Howard from right tackle with the Jets to right guard with the Raiders is going smoothly and he sounds as if he expects it last into the regular season.
“I think Austin’s doing well. I don’t think he’s there yet,” Allen said. “I think yesterday he came around the edge on a pull and was pretty impressive, then sometimes you see some things fundamentally, technique-wise, that he’s got to work on. I think by the time we get to the regular season, he’ll be in real good shape inside.”