NAPA – Derek Carr has sneaky speed. The Raiders quarterback flashes it occasionally outside the pocket, but prefers his legs to buy him time to let his right arm do the real work.
Carr has shown great ability to throw on the run this training camp and find receivers downfield after dodging pass rushers in the backfield. That happened a few times during Friday’s practice in pads.
“I want to be able to put stress on people, not only from the pocket,” Carr said. “Obviously, I’ve been able to do that for three years, but if I can break contain, if I can see…it makes it easier this year because the game’s slower. Every year the game gets slower. I know where the coverage is, I know what route beats that coverage and as soon as I see it, if it’s not there then I can make something happen with my feet.
“I’m never going to do it too much, obviously. You guys know that. But, the fact that when those coverages play out that way and I can move out and extend plays.”
He also has straight-line speed – Carr ran a 4.69-second 40-yard dash at his scouting combine – and has made a long run and won a few races to the goal line this past week.
It’s hard to imagine Raiders coaches want their $25 million man venturing outside the pocket and away from an excellent offensive line too often. Injury risk increases out there, and this team can’t afford that. Just ask the 2016 Raiders how things when after Carr went down.
Speed is a weapon Carr will wield at times during the regular season, though he has to be smart about it. He must get rid of the football outside the pocket before a big hit, and should be careful when trying to tuck and run. He hurt his hand trying to stiff-arm a defender in 2015, but admits that’s not in the repertoire anymore.
“The stiff arm needs to go away,” Carr said with a smile. “Yes, we don’t need any more hand (injuries).”
-- Starting cornerback Sean Smith spent his practice with the second unit for the first time. TJ Carrie took his snaps at outside cornerback in the starting base defense. The high-priced veteran has struggled some in training camp, continuing last season’s trend of inconsistency. He would play well at times, but give up far too many big plays.
It’s uncertain how long Smith will stay with the backup unit, but it’s something to watch in the coming days. Carrie fared well in his stead, but Smith’s real competition will come when Gareon Conley recovers from shin splints and tries to earn snaps outside in the base defense and the slot in sub packages.
-- Cornerback TJ Carrie and receiver Michael Crabtree locked horns in camp’s first prolonged tussle. Helmets came off during an exchange where Crabtree threw Carrie to the ground and Carrie kicked him back. Cool heads prevailed quickly, though Crabtree beat David Amerson for a touchdown on his next rep. Crabtree scored another touchdown later in the same red-zone period.
-- DeAndre Washington has taken more first-unit reps and more volume in general than Jalen Richard.
-- Donald Penn continues to hold out and David Sharpe (lower leg) is banged up enough to miss practice, putting a strain on available offensive tackles. Those guys are taking more reps than normal, at times outside a desired position to get through a practice. Marshall Newhouse has also been glued to the left side, even when he’s expected to start at right tackle. Chauncey Briggs and Jylan Ware are taking a heavier load as well while the Raiders are lacking bodies.
-- Defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes had a strong day, including a sack of Derek Carr rushing from the inside.
-- Receiver Amari Cooper missed his second practice in the last three sessions on Friday, wearing a compression sleeve on his left knee. He came up gingerly late in Thursday’s practice and shut himself down. The injury is not considered serious.
-- Second-round safety Obi Melifonwu missed practice with an undisclosed ailment. First-round cornerback Gareon Conley remains on the PUP list with shin splints.