Can Raiders’ Connor Cook make franchise history?

Oakland Raiders quarterback Connor Cook (8) fumbles in the second half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017, in Denver. The Raiders recovered the ball. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Oakland Raiders quarterback Connor Cook (8) fumbles in the second half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017, in Denver. The Raiders recovered the ball. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Connor Cook will boldy go where only one man before him has gone in the storied 57-year history of the Oakland Raiders.

Come Saturday in Houston at 1:30 p.m., the 23-year-old Cook will become just the second rookie quarterback in franchise history to start a playoff game. The Raiders have played 43 postseason games in their history and the only other time a rookie started came in 1991 when Todd Marinovich was under center.

Marinovich’s fateful start against the Chiefs came in under eerily similar circumstances to Cook’s expected start against the Texans. Long before Marinovich’s career and life spun out of control, he was a rookie first-round pick out of USC filled with promise. Like Cook, Marinovich threw his first NFL pass the week before the playoffs. Like Cook, Marinovich was impressive in a Raiders loss — very impressive, throwing three touchdowns in a 27-21 loss to the Chiefs in that Dec. 22 game in ’91.

Connecting the dots of the Raiders rookie quarterbacks, Cook also gave the Raiders reason for optimism in Sunday’s crushing loss in Denver by going 14 for 21 for 150 yards and a touchdown.

But this is where Raiders fans are hoping the similarities between Marinovich and Cook come to an end.

A week after getting his feet wet in ’91, a week later Marinovich was overwhelmed by the same Chiefs defense while throwing four costly interceptions in a 10-6 loss in Kansas City in the wild card round. Marinovich went 12 for 23 for 140 yards and also fumbled once. Not included in his woeful stat line was a locker room mirror that Marinovich broke with his helmet after the loss.

How will Cook respond to the pressure of being the first rookie in NFL history to make his first career start in the playoffs? And what about the task of playing on the road against the NFL’s top-ranked defense? Can Cook become the first Raiders rookie quarterback to ever win a playoff game? It’s probably safe to say the Raiders’ best chance of winning would be for their offensive line to turn in a dominating performance, and for their defense to make some plays against Houston’s Brock Osweiler.

On the other hand, a guy who knows a couple things about quarterback play seems to think an awful lot of Connor Cook!


Raiders begin post-Carr phase expressing confidence in McGloin


ALAMEDA — Life without Derek Carr officially began Tuesday, with the Raiders returning to work for the first time since losing their starting quarterback to a broken fibula.


The Raiders as a matter of policy don’t confirm surgical procedures, but Carr himself passed along the news on Twitter.


“Surgery couldn’t have gone better! Received great news! Already started the recovery process!,” Carr said. “Thank you for all of your prayers as I heal up!”


Meanwhile, the long faces in the locker room on Christmas Eve have given way to optimism, with players invoking the NFL custom of “next man up.” In the Raiders case, that means backup quarterback Matt McGloin.


“Nobody wants to lose the starting quarterback, so it was an adjustment for that moment,” center Rodney Hudson said. “We’re confident (Matt’s) going to do a good job. He prepares well, works hard, and we’ve just got to do our part to make sure we stay sharp.”


McGloin started six games as an undrafted rookie in 2013, winning his starting debut in a 23-20 road win against the Houston Texans and losing his next five starts.


His only extended playing time in the last 47 games were single appearances replacing Carr due to injury in London against the Miami Dolphins in 2014 and in the 2015 regular-season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.


The good news for the Raiders is there will be need for major tweaks to the offensive system, given that McGloin operates in a similar way in terms of execution and delivery.


McGloin, who will speak to the media Wednesday, goes about his job Monday through Friday much like the man he is replacing.


“I would say the only thing is McGloin probably swears a little more than Derek,” rookie quarterback Connor Cook said. “That’s the main difference.”


Tight end Mychal Rivera said McGloin brings a competitive edge that was evident when both players were rookies in 2013.


“He’s a leader at heart and a hard worker,” Rivera said. “It’s almost like he lives for being that underdog, and that’s what fuels him. We’re going to rally behind him and we’re excited for Sunday.”


In McGloin’s first start, Rivera caught five passes for 54 yards, including a 26-yard touchdown.


Wide receiver Andre Holmes, who also played with McGloin in 2013, cited the quarterback’s late 19-yard completion to Amari Cooper which put the Indianapolis game away after Carr was injured.


“He put the ball out there for Amari to go up and make a play on it,” Holmes said. “Those aer some of the things he did a lot when he was starting here a few years ago. He understands the abilities that his playmakers have. He has full confidence in those players having his back.”


This time around, McGloin has a far superior team around him as opposed to the Dennis Allen-coached Raiders that finished 4-12 in 2013.


“Now he’s got a running game and he’s got weapons like Crab and Amari, and tight ends that do a good job working the middle of the field,” running back Taiwan Jones said. “He knows we’ve got his back and we’ll keep the show going.”


In a podcast Tuesday with Monday Morning Quarteback’s Albert Breer, former Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson seconded the notion that Carr to McGloin should be a smooth transition in terms of preparation.


“You can’t minimize the loss of Derek Carr and how well he’s playing, but I think the staff believes in Matt and the locker room believes in Matt,” Olson said. “A lot of the traits they have are similar. They’re accurate, they make good decisions.”


Olson, the offensive coordinator in 2013-14, said McGloin is a “very capable backup quarterback and one that could probably be starting for a lot of teams this season. I think they’re confidenet in that, and there won’t have to be a lot of changes.”


Carr, whose chances of returning to the field even if the Raiders were to make the Super Bowl are extremely remote, is expected back soon.


“I think he’ll be back around tomorrow,” running back Latavius Murray said. “I know he’s not going to take time off or be away from this building if he doesn’t have to — that’s the kind of guy he is.”


When will Raiders QB Derek Carr take snap from center? Mum’s the word



Staff photo

Derek Carr hasn’t taken a snap from iunder center in 231 snaps

ALAMEDA — When we last saw Raiders quarterback Derek Carr under center on Nov. 27, he exited with his right pinkie finger bent in different directions after an exchange with Rodney Hudson.

Since Carr’s return that day, he has taken 231 snaps from center — every one of them in either the shotgun or pistol formations, when the snap travels at least four yards through the air and with limited force on the hands of the quarterback.

Whether the Raiders return to plays run from under center against Indianapolis Saturday at the Coliseum remains to be seen, and certainly won’t be advertised by the coaching staff in advance.

In a 19-16 win over San Diego, Carr actually lined up under center late in the first quarter long enough to draw Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa offsides for a penalty. The ball was never snapped.

The rest of the game was strictly shotgun and pistol. Carr is playing with the finger taped, his brother David telling NFL Media at the time of the injury it was dislocated in two places.

While Carr directed the Raiders to a wins over Carolina and Buffalo, the offense has struggled in the last two games against division opponents Kansas City and San Diego with two touchdowns in 10 red zone possessions.

The Raiders haven’t run plays from under center in either short yardage or goal line, which usually calls for those formations, and even ran five snaps in kneel-down formations against Carolina and San Diego out of shotgun.

All of which suggests Carr’s pinkie is limiting the Raiders to some extent offensively, although neither coach Jack Del Rio nor Carr were conceding that point Monday.

“I wouldn’t draw any conclusions from that,” Del Rio said at his weekly press conference. “I think we’re doing what we think is right for us and it’s not that we can’t or we haven’t, it’s just that we’re choosing to proceed the way we are.”

Asked when he might be lining up under center on his weekly radio appearance on 95.7 The Game, Carr said, “I haven’t been limited at all. I’m taking snaps from center (in warm-ups). I did it before the game, for those that saw that. There’s no limitations so I’m just going to do what the coaches call.”

Since the injury, Carr has completed 53.3 percent of his passes (65 of 122) for 721 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions, a passer rating of 75.2. A passer rating that was 101.2 at the time of the injury has dropped to 95.2.

On Nov. 6, the Raiders had their best rushing performance of the season, with 43 attempts for 218 yards against the Denver Broncos. They ran the ball from under center on 34 of those 43 carries.

It defies logic to suggest Del Rio and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave have made a conscious decision to abandon an entire section of the playbook and that it has nothing to do with the health of their quarterback.

In the postgame locker room after the Chargers win, Del Rio said using the shotgun in the red zone: was “an issue we’re working through . . . at some point (when) we feel better about going under center, we will.”

— Del Rio, while ecstatic for a fan base which hasn’t seen the playoffs since 2002, was getting on with the business of preparing to face the Colts.

“There’s been a drought here. We got here two years ago and talked about winning the division and being in the playoffs. The being in the playoffs part is there. The winning the division (part) is yet to be determined. We need to continue to work on that.”

— When Del Rio won a challenge which re-spotted a scramble gain by Carr for a first down, it was his third win in five challenges. The Raiders got a huge ruling in their favor when Michael Crabtree’s 13-yard catch was ruled a touchdown after originally being ruled out of bounds.

“I believe in getting it right when you can,” Del Rio said. “I’d like to see it expanded to any call you think is important enough for your  team. I’ve got a bunch of good people to help with that decision making. We’ve been fortunate to be on the right side of a bunch of those.”

— Wide receiver Amari Cooper caught one pass for 28 yards and has 12 catches for 138 yards in his last four games.

“It’d be nice to get him a few more balls, but I think at the end of the day, we want to stack up wins,” Del Rio said. “I think that’s the most important thing, but I think getting your premiere players involved is usually a good thing.”


Plan to keep Raiders in Oakland draws mixed reaction from Nevada politicians


By Jason Green, Bay Area News Group

LAS VEGAS — An emerging effort to keep the Raiders in Oakland is drawing mixed reaction from elected officials in Las Vegas, where owner Mark Davis has committed to moving the football team and lawmakers have agreed to chip in $750 million for a new stadium.

[related_articles location=”left” show_article_date=”false” article_type=”automatic-primary-tag”]Announced Friday, the plan calls for a $1.25 billion, 55,000-seat stadium at the Coliseum site, as well as a possible new ballpark for the A’s and a large commercial development.

Steve Sisolak, chairman of the Clark County Commission in Nevada, said he was not worried about Davis changing his mind. Sisolak served on the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee, which backed the proposal to pluck the Raiders from Oakland.

“I’ve been dealing with both (team president) Marc Badain and Mark Davis regularly over the past almost two years now,” said Sisolak, who strongly supports the Raiders moving to Las Vegas. “I’ve found them both to be men of great integrity. They’ve committed that their plan is to move the team to Las Vegas as long as we could build a stadium.”

But fellow Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani said a competing bid to keep the team in Oakland is exactly what she expected.

“The reality was that Oakland was never going to let the Raiders go,” said Giunchigliani, a harsh critic of the Nevada Legislature’s approval of a hotel room tax hike that would provide a large chunk of the funding needed to build a 65,000-seat stadium in Las Vegas.

Giunchigliani said it isn’t sports she has a problem with.

“I don’t believe in public financing for these kinds of things,” she said. “It just is irresponsible and it doesn’t ever pencil out for the constituents, and that’s who my concern is with.”

A source familiar with funding for the plan announced Friday said $200 million would come from the NFL and $300 million from the Raiders. The rest is from an investment group headed by Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott and money-management firm Fortress Investment Group.

Ultimately, any plan to move the team to Las Vegas would have to be approved by three-quarters of NFL owners

If the Raiders end up staying in Oakland, the Clark County Stadium Authority would need to cast a two-thirds vote to disband, but Giunchigliani doesn’t see that happening.

Steve Hill, chairman of the authority and director of the Nevada Governor’s Office on Economic Development, declined to comment for this story.

Sisolak said he understood why Alameda County and Oakland want to retain the Raiders, but there is a “huge appetite for NFL football” in Las Vegas.

“I don’t blame Oakland for not wanting to lose the Raiders,” he said. “They’ve got a strong fan base in Oakland but they’ve developed a very strong fan base in Nevada very quickly.”

The authority held its first meeting Monday and is weighing two possible locations, Sisolak said.

“The state of Nevada and Clark County have taken significant steps to make it possible to build a stadium and have the Raiders come,” Sisolak said, “and I think that’s the path we’re still on.”


Raiders QB Derek Carr learning how to say no

Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) is finding more demands on his time.. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) is finding more demands on his time.. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

ALAMEDA — Derek Carr is learning the art of avoidance.

Carr was bestowed early with the gift of gab, a trait that dates back to his days as a youth when his mother was aghast that young Derek would strike up conversations people he’d never seen before in the grocery store.

“I used to have to tell him, `You can’t just talk to strangers like that,’ ” his mother Sheryl Carr said in 2015. “He just loved talking to people — he’s still that way.”

Now that Carr is a legitimate Most Valuable Player candidate on a 10-2 team that is creating a national buzz, the “strangers” bring recorders and cameras and want to hear his story.

Which has led to a few talks on the subject of time management by coach Jack Del Rio.

“We talk about how to protect his time from guys like you that come in here,” Del Rio said good-naturedly to a national writer in town to write about the Raiders success. “When the game is bigger and there’s more people around, you’ve got to protect your time, your preparation time, your time with your family.”

Carr concedes it hasn’t always been easy.

“Sometimes it’s been had for me, to be honest, because I try to be nice to everybody and a lot of people try to take advantage of it. That’s just the truth. I’m trying to learn as we go through it, how to say no, because everyone wants a piece of what’s going on. They didn’t much want a piece of it when we were 3-13.”

That’s about as close to an edge as you’ll get from Carr, who dutifully answered questions for nearly 12 minutes Monday, pleasantly revisiting stories about his brother’s David’s influence he’s told dozens of times.

Carr has a weekly radio spot on the Raiders flagship on Mondays, his usual time with the local reporters is Wednesday and he occasionally does conference calls with media from the Raiders opponent that week. National opportunities are screened mostly through the Raiders, as well as Carr’s representation.

Because the Raiders play Thursday night, Carr talked Monday and other than pleasantries in the locker room, will be unavailable until post-game questioning. A meticulous planner, Carr goes into media sessions with talking points and deftly avoids anything of a controversial manner.

It’s much appreciated by Del Rio, who never finds himself dealing with issues because of something controversial his quarterback told reporters.

“As a young player, he’s maturing and that’s probably the thing I’m most pleased with,” Del Rio said. “Obviously the productivity is awesome. But the way he’s conducted himself, continuing to heap praise on his teammates, to make it more about us, not about anything he’s doing individually. And I think that’s really healthy for us.”

Carr, along with running back Latavius Murray, treated the offensive line to choice seats at the Warriors game Monday night. He extolled the virtues of the team in an interview with CSN Bay-Area.


“We have a great group of guys, honestly. We have guys with character,” Carr said.

— Safety Nate Allen played just 12 snaps on defense in 10 games (missing two with a quadriceps injury) before playing 40 snaps against Buffalo. He got an interception on the play Khalil Mack hit Tyrod Taylor in the end zone.

Allen was playing in place of Karl Joseph, who left with a toe injury.

“You can’t sit around and mope,” Allen said. “You’ve got to be ready when your number is called.”

Del Rio said, “Nate really has been a pro. It’s good to have that kind of depth we can go to. He’s had an impact for us on special teams and he showed up big (against Buffalo).

Allen is the likely starter at strong safety against Kansas City, with Joseph hobbling and unlikely to play against Kansas City.

— Defensive tackle Darius Latham, defensive tackle Stacy McGee and linebacker Shilique Calhoun did not practice. Guard Kelchi Osemele and linebacker Cory James were limited.


Raiders notes: Mario Edwards Jr. returns to practice


Note: Blog crashed yesterday as I was posting this so apologies for the delay.

ALAMEDA — The Raiders designated Mario Edwards Jr. to return from injured reserve and the defensive end practiced Monday for the first time since training camp.

“It felt good just to get back out there with those guys,” Edwards said afterwards. “Even if it is a practice, just to get back out there, the camaraderie and things like that definitely felt good.”

The Raiders held only a light walk-through as they recover from Sunday’s win over the Buffalo Bills and prepare on the short week to face the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday.

Edwards, out since an Aug. 12 with a hip injury suffered in the first exhibition game, now has a 21-day window in which he can practice. The Raiders can activate him to the roster at any time during the window, but he said there’s no formal target date for when he’ll play in a game.

“I’m a little different so I don’t really know,” Edwards said. “We don’t really have a date on it. It’s just more so how I’m feeling and how it’s healing.” Continue Reading


The never-ending Aldon Smith wait continues — even for Raiders brass

(D. Ross Cameron/Bay Area News Group)

(D. Ross Cameron/Bay Area News Group)

The latest from Jimmy Durkin

ALAMEDA — Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie is just like everybody else — waiting for any news on a potential reinstatement of outside linebacker Aldon Smith.

McKenzie spent a half hour with Raiders beat writers on Thursday morning and said he’s still heard nothing from the NFL on Smith, who is now two weeks removed from the one-year anniversary of his banishment from the league. He reportedly applied for reinstatement on Oct. 3 and the league is supposed to make its best attempt to reply within 60 days, which would be Friday.

“Those guys, they’ll let us know in due time,” McKenzie said of the NFL. “I’m sure they’re in communication with each other with that. They don’t fill us in on anything in that process.”

McKenzie wouldn’t rule out Smith playing an impactful role for the Raiders this season. Videos posted recently by Smith show him to be in good physical shape, although getting into football shape could be a different story.

“If he’s cleared,” McKenzie said, “we’re going to go through the proper channels and see where he’s at physically and mentally and all that. So to totally discount this year, no, we wouldn’t do that.”

What’s your take? Is no news bad news for the Raiders?

The other latest news out of Alameda:

Mario Edwards does some agility work

Jerry McDonald predicts the matchup with Buffalo

Yet another award for Khalil Mack

NFL actually letting players show off their flashy shoes?