This is why the Raiders wanted EJ Manuel.
With starting quarterback Derek Carr out of the picture for at least two weeks with a transverse process fracture in his back, Manuel will now get a chance to start again after losing the No. 1 job in Buffalo.
Manuel, 27, was the No. 1 quarterback taken in the 2013 NFL draft and became the Bills’ starter that season for 10 games. He also started four games the next season before going down with an injury. In 2015 and 2016 he was relegated to backup duty and his career foundered before moving on to the Raiders this offseason to provide a better insurance policy for Carr. In training camp he beat out second-year man Connor Cook for the primary backup role.
Now, the Raiders are cashing in that policy and hoping Manuel can keep the 2-2 Raiders afloat as they take on the Ravens this Sunday and Chargers next week. If Carr can’t come back at that point, Manuel would have to be the man against the Chiefs in a Thursday night matchup on Oct. 19 in Oakland.
Though head coach Jack Del Rio noted Monday that losing Carr – who has evolved into one of the NFL’s best young quarterbacks – is hard, he says Manuel gives his team a chance to get some wins.
“Certainly the way EJ played (Sunday) was uplifting,” Del Rio told reporters.
Manuel completed his first eight throws and finished 11-of-17 for 106 yards. He threw a late interception, however, that sealed the 16-10 defeat at Denver.
Manuel says he’s ready for the challenge. The Raiders, after a 2-0 start, desperately need a victory against 2-2 Baltimore Sunday to get back on track.
“I think, looking all of the guys in their eyes, they were confident in me, which gave me confidence in myself,” Manuel told the media after Sunday’s game. “When those guys have been out there since Day 1, as a backup you don’t want to mess up any things that they already have pretty much established. You just want to go in and do your best and try to help us win, but we were able to move the ball.
“If you’re the next man up and your number is called, you have to go up and perform. This is a performance-based business. … I’m going to go out there and do my best to help our team win.”
At Buffalo, Manuel was 6-11 as a starter and his play was up and down. He threw for 19 touchdowns in 29 games, with 16 interceptions and just a 76.9 quarterback rating and a completion percentage of 58.5 percent. But he has a strong arm and plenty of experience and will have a full week of preparation for Sunday’s game against the Ravens.
Sunday’s game at O.co Coliseum is set to kick off at 1:05 p.m.