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Connor Cook locked in during solid Raiders’ debut

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Connor Cook was solid during his NFL debut for the Raiders on Friday night. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

Connor Cook was solid during his NFL debut for the Raiders on Friday night. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Connor Cook was locked onto his task.

The Raiders’ third-string quarterback made his NFL debut in Friday’s 31-10 exhibition win over the Arizona Cardinals. Oakland’s fourth-round pick, Cook completed 7 of 11 passes for 71 yards, numbers that would’ve been even better if an offensive pass interference call hadn’t wiped out a long completion to K.J. Brent.

“I thought it was good,” Cook said of his debut. “Coach (Bill) Musgrave was calling a lot of quick-game stuff so I could get the ball out of my hands fairly quick. Guys were open. It wasn’t like there was super, super tight coverage, and guys were making plays after the catch.”

The Raiders took a solid approach toward getting their rookie’s feet wet at the NFL level. Starter Derek Carr played the first two series, backup Matt McGloin played through the first series of the second half, and Cook handled the rest.

He battled through the natural nerves and at one point was so focused on a sideline discussion with quarterbacks coach Todd Downing that he didn’t notice Carr trying to deliver him a cup of water.

“I’m just here to serve,” Carr joked of his water boy duties. “If I’m not in, I’m going to do what I can to help us.”

The Raiders led 17-10 when Cook entered and they scored on his first possession and two of the five he guided (with running back George Atkinson III doing the damage both times).

Cook started quickly, hitting Marvin Hall for a short 4-yard completion on his first pass attempt.

“It was just a relief being able to get out there and your first pass is a completion,” Cook said.

The next play was a short pass out of the backfield to DeAndre Washington that the fellow rookie took 32 yards downfield. Atkinson followed with his electric 53-yard touchdown run.

“I was finally able to go out there and compete against someone other than the Raiders,” Cook said. “To finally get out there and be in a game situation where you could score some points and go on a long drive and go up against an opponent, it’s a lot better.”

Coach Jack Del Rio was happy with Cook’s debut.

“I thought Connor played good for us at quarterback, especially for his first live action as an NFL quarterback,” Del Rio said.

Cook said he had butterflies before the game, something that’s always been the case for him.

“Oh for sure,” Cook said. “Ever since I was at Michigan State, every time I played in a game, I was always nervous. Same today, even though I wasn’t starting and I didn’t really play the whole game. There’s always butterflies, especially when you’re playing against the top guys in the world.”

Carr said he was working to help mentally prepare Cook for his debut.

“I was telling him everything that I thought I would want someone to tell me before my first game,” Carr said. “Right before he went in, just give him a little, ‘Hey man, take a deep breath. See the safety, see the flat, just start going through things slowly in your head.’ I thought he went out there and did a great and handled himself great.”

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Jimmy Durkin

Sports writer for the Bay Area News Group, covering the Raiders.