Raiders

Carr unconcerned with training camp interceptions, focused on progression

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USATSI

Carr unconcerned with training camp interceptions, focused on progression

NAPA – Quarterback Derek Carr has thrown his share of interceptions this Raiders training camp.

An early Wednesday throw bounced off Karl Joseph’s hands – No. 42 wasn’t thrilled about that – and ended up with undrafted rookie cornerback Breon Borders. TJ Carrie jumped Carr’s final volley and returned it for a touchdown.

There’s no need to stress over that. Carr isn’t, not one bit.

Offensive coordinator Todd Downing evaluates every throw for accuracy, pace, decision making, etc., and gives them a numerical value. The entire practice gets a grade and ends up on a chart. Carr’s report card is full of high marks.

“Every camp, every OTA, all those things and I’ve progressed. The percentage that I’ve progressed from last year to this year, it’s awesome,” Carr said after practice. "I want to always stay on that trend. Now that kind of stuff, that’s going to happen. TJ [Carrie] made a great jump. He read the play and he jumped it. That kind of stuff is going to happen.

"As long as I’m going to the right place with the ball, I’ll be OK. But if I’m making dumb decisions, then I’ll be mad. As long as we’re going in the right direction, which, based on the charts we are, that lets me know. OK, I’m doing the right things in the offseason. I’m doing the right things film study wise and so on and so forth.”

That’s no surprise for an MVP candidate and true franchise quarterback. While picks are often detailed on social media, bull’s-eyes are often overlooked because they’re common.

Carr and Downing are picky. Completions aren’t the benchmark. Was it accurate? Was it easily catchable? Did it go to the right receiver at the right time?

The fourth-year veteran continues to work on things and refine his technique and his game to best take advantage at the vast skill-position arsenal available to him.

Interceptions aren’t welcome, but there’s more to each practice rep than meets the eye. Carr constantly evaluates every aspect of his job, even when things are going well.

“(There’s) decision-making, accuracy, just giving guys catchable balls -- that’s always the main thing,” Carr said. “That’s a wide range of things. Not throwing a heater and bouncing it off the running back’s chest or too high. It’s knowing the game and knowing who can do what. Obviously, that takes time. The big thing for me is we have an accuracy percentage that we go off of. I just always want to make sure that number is always going up. That comes from footwork. That comes from timing and all those things.”

QUICK SLANTS

-- Veteran cornerback Sean Smith worked extensively as a hybrid safety/linebacker with all three defensive units, as the Raiders figure out where he best fits. Smith has also been a fourth cornerback working inside against spread formations. TJ Carrie continues to work outside with the first team.

-- Amari Cooper missed his sixth practice in seven sessions on Wednesday, meaning it’s virtually certain he won’t play Saturday at Arizona. Edge rusher Khalil Mack missed his second straight practice with an undisclosed injury.

-- Third-round defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes has been praised for his play this training camp. The versatile talent has shown power, speed and tenacity in practice. Carr, however, paid the rookie a huge compliment. He likened him to a former New York Giants and Raiders pass rusher.

“Very explosive, great hands,” Carr said. “He reminds me a lot of the way [Justin] Tuck can get skinny and shoot a gap. The way he plays with his hands, and if he gets beat the first time, he’s going to counter again. If he gets beat then he’s going to counter again. His mind never stops. His motor never stops. That kind of player inside with Bruce [Irvin] and Khalil [Mack] rushing the outside, it’s going to be a problem. It really is.”

-- The Raiders were missing five members of their draft class on Tuesday. They got four back on Wednesday, with Vanderdoes, offensive tackles David Sharpe and Jylan Ware returning as full participants. Sharpe was the second-team right tackle upon return. Second-round safety Obi Melifonwu suited up but did not participate in individual or team drills. It’s highly unlikely he’ll play Saturday’s preseason opener at Arizona.

-- Running back DeAndre Washington has taken significant snap volume in camp, with Marshawn Lynch and Jalen Richard being preserved for the fall. Washington has impressed as a runner and a pass protector. Both skills were on display during Wednesday’s padded practice, when he controlled rushing linebackers charging Carr and wiggled free for longer runs.

“He’s doing a great job,” Carr said. “Not only in running the football. Obviously, he had a good touchdown for us in the red-zone period, but he’s doing great things in pass protection for a guy of his stature. Usually you think a smaller guy, I don’t know, but he’s real stocky. He’s strong. So when he gets his hands on guys, he does a pretty good job. I think that he’s had a phenomenal camp.”

-- Undrafted receiver Isaac Whitney flashed on a few plays, showing great downfield speed to track and catch deep passes.

-- Quarterback Connor Cook took two second-unit reps on Wednesday, in what was believed to be his first with the primary backups. He didn’t get much help, having a pass dropped one play and getting sacked the next. He’ll continue to battle for the No. 2 quarterback job with EJ Manuel during the preseason. Manuel currently has a firm grip on that position battle.

Injury report: CB Sean Smith questionable; Washington TE Reed's status uncertain

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Injury report: CB Sean Smith questionable; Washington TE Reed's status uncertain

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Raiders are remarkably healthy heading into Sunday night’s game against the Washington football club.

The entire 53-man roster practiced fully on Friday, before heading to the nation’s capital.

That includes veteran cornerback Sean Smith, who missed the previous game with a neck injury. A shoulder ailment cropped up during the week, which prompted the Raiders to label him questionable heading into Week 3. Smith’s the only Raider on the injury report, and even he’s in decent shape.

“I mean we put it on there because there’s still a little bit of a question,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “You don’t have probable’s anymore. Given the choices, I just left him that way.”

That means the Raiders are going to have some healthy scratches a week after Smith was the only injured player sitting out.

Washington has some impact players on the mend. That included tight end Jordan Reed, who is questionable with a rib/sternum injury. He stands 6-foot-2, 246 pounds and is the type of receiving tight end that gives the Raiders fits. He has 1,638 yards 17 touchdowns the last two seasons, using good hands and a large frame to create mismatches in the secondary.

It’ll be key for the Raiders to defend him well if he’s active, with Nicholas Morrow as a primary coverage option.

“We’re prepared to face him,” Del Rio said. “We think he’s a good player. We’ll approach it that way and adjust if he doesn’t go.”

Washington also lists starting inside linebacker Mason Foster and running back Rob Kelley as questionable.

Raiders Injury Report
Questionable
CB Sean Smith (neck/shoulder)

Washington Injury Report
Questionable

TE Jordan Reed (rib/sternum), LB Mason Foster (shoulder), RB Rob Kelley (rib), S Monate Nicholson (shoulder), CB Josh Norman (shoulder)

Karl Joseph living up to first-round billing with early impact for Raiders

Karl Joseph living up to first-round billing with early impact for Raiders

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Raiders safety Karl Joseph notched his first career forced fumble in Week 2’s blowout victory over the New York Jets. It came on his first sack, where he bent around a tackle into the pocket and devoured his pray.

Joseph recovered the ball, and the Raiders quickly scored a touchdown. The second-year pro enjoyed that moment, but left the game with regrets.

"I should have definitely had more sacks than I did,” Joseph said. “I feel like I should have had three.”

Joseph had quarterback Josh McCown in the crosshairs three times, and feels like he should’ve finished each one. The game plan provided opportunity. Joseph blitzed six times – fellow safety Reggie Nelson attacked thrice – and pressured the quarterback four times.

It was a relatively new responsibility, considering he blitzed nine times all last year. Joseph will be first to say he was a different player then. He was less explosive, more tentative and a smidge less confident, lingering effects from an ACL tear during his final college season. Joseph was cleared to play as a rookie but wasn’t all the way back, doubly hampered by missing an offseason program where rookies grow quick.

"I wasn’t completely myself,” Joseph said in an exclusive interview with NBC Sports California. “I feel a lot more like myself this year. I obviously feel better physically, and the year of experience in the system has definitely helped. So has adjusting to the NFL life. That’s been an easier transition for me.”

Joseph is playing more like his highlight reel from West Virginia, where he proved a heavy hitter and a solid cover man worthy of last year’s No. 14 overall draft pick. The Jets game isn’t the only evidence of that.

Joseph had an excellent training camp, flashing an aggressive style and solid timing making plays in practice. That translated to the regular-season opener at Tennessee, when he saved a touchdown on consecutive plays. The first came on an open-field tackle. The second was a leaping pass breakup in the end zone, proof positive that Joseph was ready to make a big impact.

"He’s really good close to the line of scrimmage,” defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. said. "He’s a really good tackler in the open field. He also plays well on the back end. I think his development is right on time right now.”

The Raiders recognize that, and are using him like a queen on the chessboard. He can move back or forward, as an attacker or the last line of defense. He’s a rover at times, with an ability to create havoc at all levels of the defense.

Joseph is an excellent fit for the defensive scheme, bring a tone-setting physicality to the secondary. He is learning, as part of his development, that the nuclear option isn’t always best. There are times when it is, and Joseph enters those scenarios without fear.

"You can’t play worried about getting hurt. That’s not the way I play,” Joseph said. “It’s about being smart. I had to adjust my game coming into the NFL. Every hit can’t be a big hit. Sometimes you have to be smart and just wrap people up, but you can’t ever play scared.”

He isn’t afraid to take risks or attack when asked, and is already making a major impact on this year’s defense. That isn’t a surprise. It’s expected of first-round picks.

"That’s what he’s supposed to do. He’s supposed to make plays,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “He’s a guy we selected because we thought he’d be a guy that could come in and impact on our defense. In the first two games of this year he’s played well. There are still things, like I tell you all the time, that have cleaning up to do, work to do, things to improve on, but he’s off to a good start and obviously it follows up from a good offseason. Healthy, a lot of good work and confidence that he’s gaining as we go.”