With sneaky speed, Carr must pick the right times to unleash his wheels


With sneaky speed, Carr must pick the right times to unleash his wheels

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.

Aaron Hernandez lawyer: Brain showed 'most severe case' of CTE for 27-year-old


Aaron Hernandez lawyer: Brain showed 'most severe case' of CTE for 27-year-old

BOSTON — Tests conducted on the brain of former football star Aaron Hernandez showed severe signs of the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, and his attorney said Thursday that the player’s daughter is suing the NFL and the New England Patriots for leading Hernandez to believe the sport was safe.

In a news conference at his offices, Hernandez’s attorney Jose Baez said the testing showed one of the most severe cases ever diagnosed.

“We’re told it was the most severe case they had ever seen for someone of Aaron’s age,” Baez said.

Dr. Ann McKee, the director of the CTE Center at Boston University, concluded that the New England Patriots tight end had stage 3 of 4 of the disease, and also had early brain atrophy and large perforations in a central membrane.

The lawsuit filed in federal court in Boston on Thursday claims that the team and league deprived Avielle Hernandez of the companionship of her father. It is separate from a $1 billion settlement in which the league agreed to pay families of players who suffered brain damage because of repeated head trauma while playing football.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy declined comment, saying the league had not seen the lawsuit.

Baez said Hernandez had been playing football because the NFL led him to believe it was safe.

“Those representations turned out to be false,” Baez said.

CTE can be caused by repeated head trauma and leads to symptoms like violent mood swings, depression and other cognitive difficulties. Hernandez killed himself in April in the jail cell where he was serving a life-without-parole sentence for a 2013 murder. His death came just hours before the Patriots visited the White House to celebrate their latest Super Bowl victory.

CTE can only be diagnosed in an autopsy. A recent study found evidence of the disease in 110 of 111 former NFL players whose brains were examined.

CTE has been linked with repeated concussions and involves brain damage particularly in the frontal region that controls many functions including judgment, emotion, impulse control, social behavior and memory.

“When hindsight is 20-20, you look back and there are things you might have noticed but you didn’t know,” Baez said.

A week before his suicide, Hernandez was acquitted in the 2012 drive-by shootings of two men in Boston. Prosecutors had argued that Hernandez gunned the two men down after one accidentally spilled a drink on him in a nightclub, and then got a tattoo of a handgun and the words “God Forgives” to commemorate the crime.

Baez said he deeply regretted not raising the issue of Hernandez having CTE during his murder trials. He said they did not blame CTE for the murders because Hernandez’s defense was actual innocence.

A star for the University of Florida when it won the 2008 title, Hernandez dropped to the fourth round of the NFL draft because of trouble in college that included a failed drug test and a bar fight. His name had also come up in an investigation into a shooting.

In three seasons with the Patriots, Hernandez joined Rob Gronkowski to form one of the most potent tight end duos in NFL history. In 2011, his second season, Hernandez caught 79 passes for 910 yards and seven touchdowns to help the team reach the Super Bowl, and he was rewarded with a $40 million contract.

But the Patriots released him in 2013, shortly after he was arrested in the killing of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd, who was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee. Hernandez was convicted and sentenced to life in prison; the conviction was voided because he died before his appeals were exhausted, though that decision is itself being appealed.

No rust at all for Carr coming off broken leg: 'He doesn't make mistakes'


No rust at all for Carr coming off broken leg: 'He doesn't 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 only 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."