Editor's note: Scott Bair is in Alameda Tuesday through Thursday for the Raiders' three-day minicamp. Stay logged on to CSNBayArea.com and tune in nightly to SportsNet Central and Yahoo SportsTalk Live for comprehensive coverage.
The plan was always to develop Derek Carr at his own pace. With veteran Matt Schaub as the starter and game-worn backup in Matt McGloin, there’s no need to rush things along.
That’s sound logic to be sure. The Raiders haven’t drafted and developed a franchise quarterback in years, and they don’t want to squander this chance.
As the Raiders have realized in the six weeks since drafting Carr No. 36 overall, development might not require a snail’s pace.
“That all depends on him,” head coach Dennis Allen said. “As with any of these young guys, the more they can handle, the more we’re going to throw at them. If they can handle it, we’re going to keep throwing it at them.”
Still, freshmen aren’t supposed to pass AP Calculus. Carr hasn’t officially done so -- final grades aren’t due ‘til September -- but his progress report is promising. The rookie has shown a unique ability to absorb a tremendous volume and apply and execute during this offseason program, which ends with Thursday’s minicamp finale.
That’s why the coaching staff chose to increase his workload, allowing him to practice with the second team in these minicamp sessions after spending OTAs behind McGloin.
[RELATED: Observations from Raiders minicamp: Day 2]
“He’s a very mature, intelligent player and because of that, we felt after being around him that we should accelerate the learning curve for this player,” offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. “Let’s give him a chance to get in there with the No. 1 and No. 2 huddle and see how he does.”
Carr has made some rookie mistakes -- he’d like to have a few fumbled snaps and overthrows back, but who wouldn’t? -- though he’s flashed a strong and accurate arm when things go right.
That’s what spectators see. Those who are in the meeting rooms and know what correct checks should be made when, have been impressed by an ability to read and react quickly at the pro level.
“Every day, you see him do something,” Allen said on Tuesday. “Today, he made a nice protection call, was able to get a pressure blocked up, get the ball out to the receiver. I’ve seen some progress from that standpoint. The thing about Derek is, and I’ve said this from the beginning, he’s highly intelligent. He’s able to take things that you teach him in the classroom and be able to apply those things to the field. There are still things that he misses, but that’s why we practice.”
That’s a shot of reality to this Carr hype. We’re still in June. In an offseason program without padded practices. Game action, a real proving ground even in the exhibition season, is still a few months away. There’s a lot left to show.
Carr’s good offseason work hasn’t changed the pecking order at the top. Schaub obviously remains the unquestioned starter and he is not currently being pushed. Allen called Schaub’s offseason work “outstanding,” and Olson praised the veteran’s leadership, intelligence and said he “has the accuracy that we’re looking for.”
[RELATED: Allen: Schaub has been 'outstanding']
That said, the increased workload and a clear ability to handle an NFL offense quickly should at least add confidence to a young rookie trying to pave his way.
“I’m the same guy every single day, and you can ask people that know me, because that’s the truth,” Carr said on Wednesday. “I can go out here, like today, and fumble snaps and I’m still going to be the same guy I’d be if I just threw three touchdowns. I’m going to go out here and I’m going to compete and I’m going to get better, every single day that I can.”
Whether it’s in two months or two years, Carr should eventually press for the starting job. If he’s ready and has earned the right, the Raiders will give him a chance to be an NFL starter.
Carr has a lot of hard work left ahead, but has taken a step in the right direction. That’s what he cares about most right now.
“I don’t think about the depth chart,” Carr said. “I don’t think about who’s in the room or anything like that. I just come out here and I work. I keep my mouth shut, I keep my head down and I just go to work. Eventually hard work will pay off.”