The Raiders open their exhibition season Friday night with a game against the Detroit Lions at O.co Coliseum.
It will be the first chance Oakland fans will have to see the new-look Raiders under old/new head coach Jon Gruden. However, if you bleed silver and black, don’t expect to see quarterback Derek Carr – or many of the projected starters – very long. Gruden told reporters Wednesday that starters will see limited time on the field as the coaching staff will get a chance to see newcomers and rookies in a game situation for the first time.
One player sure to get plenty of snaps, however, is quarterback Connor Cook.
Cook, batting with EJ Manuel for the primary backup role to Carr this season, has had a good training camp and was excellent in joint workouts with the Lions on Tuesday and Wednesday. Cook so far is listed at No. 2 on the depth chart going into the exhibition opener.
On Wednesday, Cook had a big moment in a scrimmage against the Lions, connecting with wide receiver Martavis Bryant. Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com reported Cook hit Bryant in stride as he cut across the middle of the field in front of cornerback Darius Slay. Bryant then turned upfield and sprinted away from coverage to produce a 45-yard touchdown play.
Said Gruden of Cook to the media after practice: “He’s made great strides. Since he’s stepped foot here in Napa, he hasn’t turned the ball over. Made good decisions. He audibled two or three times today in big plays. He slung the ball short, medium and deep accurately, and he’s showing really good command. … This will be a good test for him Friday night. He’ll get a good amount of playing time.”
Cook, a 6-foot-4, 217-pounder from Michigan State, was a fourth-round pick of the Raiders in 2016. He’s appeared in just two official NFL games, part of a regular-season game against the Broncos in 2016 when Carr was injured, and a playoff loss to Houston that same season when he was thrown into the starting lineup with Carr out. Though he was 14-of-21 for 150 yards and a touchdown vs. the Broncos, he stumbled badly in the playoff game. Under constant pressure (he was sacked three times), Cook threw three interceptions and was just 18-of-45 for 161 yards.
Now, however, Carr says Cook is a much different player and QB. Carr told Eddie Paskal of Raiders.com that Cook is more vocal with a higher intensity level.
Said Carr: “He’s learning a great deal. I think he’s becoming a really good player and I think that the future is really bright for Connor. I really do.”
On Friday, Cook will get his first chance under Gruden to show that in a game situation. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.