Raiders

Raiders pregame CHAT -- tonight at 6:30 p.m.

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Raiders pregame CHAT -- tonight at 6:30 p.m.

Insider Paul Gutierrez and the the Raiders are in the Valley of the Sun preparing for tonight's preseason game against the Cardinals -- Paul will chat at 6:30 p.m. from the press box leading up to kickoff -- join him!

Carr locked in early in Raiders season; 'He doesnt' make mistakes'

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Carr locked in early in Raiders season; 'He doesnt' make mistakes'

ALAMEDA –Derek Carr has been shockingly efficient early this season, even by his own standards. The Raiders quarterback has 492 yards, five touchdowns, no picks and a 126.5 passer rating over two games.

Not half bad for the $25 million man.

He nearly threw a perfect game against the New York Jets. Carr completed a career high 82 percent of his passes in Week 2, going 23-for-28 for 230 yards and three touchdowns. Accounting for receiver drops and throwaways (one each), Carr only misfired on three passes. All darn day.

The Raiders scored six touchdowns in 10 drives and punted but three times. It’s the type of game this Raiders offense is capable of, with maybe the league’s best offensive line and a stable of skill players.

Nothing, however, happens without the triggerman. Carr expectedly deflected praise for recent performance.

“The O-line, and the wide outs, running backs did great,” Carr said. “With the way we’re able to pick up blitzes, we’re able to hit go-routes for touchdowns, we’re able to push the ball on deep. (Michael) Crabtree going across the middle on a deep route a couple times. You know, without them doing their job, I can’t do it by myself. Everyone gives the quarterback credit and all those things because you always touch the ball, but I give all those guys the credit.”

Carr has been accurate and decisive working with offensive coordinator Todd Downing, operating with great comfort at the line of scrimmage, before the snap.

“I think he’s done a nice job,” Downing said. “And we’re not trying to make it a scenario where every play he’s walking up to the line of scrimmage and has to evaluate something. We want to him to be able to go play fast. It’s probably not as frequent as it may seem, but when he does have those opportunities, he’s really done a nice job of helping us out. As I told him, if he sees something that makes me look like a better play caller, have at it.”

The offense is in great sync at this early point, which has been noticed by the opposition. Carr has long commanded respect, but it’s certainly heightened after an MVP-caliber year in 2016.

"He's about timing," Washington cornerback Josh Norman said, via ESPN. "...He's precise at what he does. It's cool to see. He doesn't have any turnovers, and he doesn't make mistakes. So it's more for us as defensive backs to make plays on the ball because he's so methodical and timing-based on how he does things. He's a good quarterback. He really is. We've got our work cut out for us."

Edwards Jr. 'believing in myself again' after rough stretch

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Edwards Jr. 'believing in myself again' after rough stretch

ALAMEDA – Mario Edwards Jr. has always been a big kid. He stood 6-foot-1, 215 as a freshman in high school, but could bench 315 and run like a receiver. Freak size and athleticism made him a dominant football player.

Edwards Jr. was a five-star recruit at Billy Ryan High in Denton, Texas, rated the nation’s best defensive tackle and the No. 3 overall recruit. Not in the district or the state. In the country.

Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Alabama, Notre Dame and LSU, among others, were knocking on the door, but Edwards Jr. ultimately followed his father’s footsteps with an early commitment to Florida State.

Have all that going for you and a driver’s license and you can be a prince of Texas.

“It was kind of cool,” Edwards Jr. said on the Raiders Insider Podcast. “At 16 and 17 years old, I was doing magazine cover shoots and things like that. It sped up the process of dealing with where I’m at now. It got me prepped for this in a sense. And having my dad there, giving me the blueprint also helped as well.”

Mario Edwards Sr. blazed a trail from Florida State to the NFL as a defensive back. Junior knew exactly what it would to live his dream in professional football. As a prep and early in college, it didn’t require much work. His father instilled an improved work ethic later in college that got him ready for the pre-draft process and the pros.

“It was like I had all the answers to the test,” Edwards said. “He’s been everywhere that I’ve tried to go. He’s played at the highest level. He has been hurt. He has been to a top college and the pros. Having him there to filter out all the bad thoughts and help me to stay positive and continuing to work was great.”

That sounding board was a luxury during good times. It was a necessity during a recently rough stretch.

Edwards Jr. burst onto the scene in 2015, shortly after the Raiders took him No. 35 overall. Then he suffered a neck injury in Week 15 that year – Mario explains that situation in the podcast -- and didn’t return until June. He was back and rocking again in 2016’s training camp, but suffered a hip injury in the preseason opener and missed 14 weeks.

He wasn’t himself upon return, but another full offseason brought his explosiveness back. That’s clear watching Edwards Jr. play this season. He’s on a tear to start the year with two sacks – a full sack and two half sacks – and four quarterback pressures. He’s an effective part of the line rotation inside and out, with versatility to play multiple techniques.

The Raiders have been waiting to pair Edwards Jr. with edge rushers Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin. They can do that now, with impact rookie Eddie Vanderdoes added to the mix. Edwards Jr. is happy, healthy and playing well, free and clear of questions about his health. His dad helped him get through the down times, and continue improving during this productive period.

“I was talking to him the other day, and saying how much I have prayed and trusted the process and am believing in myself again,” Edwards Jr. said. “I’m finally getting my mojo back, and feeling like myself.”