ALAMEDA – Raiders backup quarter back AJ McCarron doesn't really want to play in Monday night's game.
He would, but would rather not.
Playing a game roughly a week after he was acquired from Buffalo for a fifth-round pick would not be, shall we say, ideal.
Derek Carr is set to play every snap against the Rams and, if all goes to plan, McCarron will never see game action. Carr has missed action in each of the last two seasons, so McCarron will have to be on red alert. In time, he'll have zero problem taking over in a pinch.
If that came in Week 1, McCarron would have to grind it out.
"If I have to get in there, God forbid, it's not going to be perfect," McCarron said Thursday, "but I know how to battle and keep trying."
The matter is complicated because Buffalo's system is completely different from what McCarron's learning now.
"It's a different type of scheme and thought process," McCarron said. "It's definitely different, but you still run a lot of the same plays. It's the lingo and formations and everything else you've got to get used to, but you just have to enjoy the process.
"…When it comes to football, I think I'm pretty smart. You can only play so many defenses. Being real familiar with the ins and outs of offense is key."
McCarron and quarterbacks coach Brian Callahan have holed up inside the team's Alameda training facility, pouring over terminology, formations and pre-snap adjustments required after surveying the defense. McCarron credits Calhallan for making an uncomfortable process relatively painless.
Raiders players have soaked up the system for five months. McCarron has been working in it for five days.
"I literally haven't paid attention to anything. I don't have time," McCarron said. "I talk to my wife and son once a day. I have been busy with this, trying to get this down."
McCarron and the Raiders are in this pickle after Connor Cook and EJ Manuel failed to impress Gruden during the preseason. The Raiders looked outside the roster and upgraded the position. In time, anyway. Once McCarron has had time to work within the scheme.
McCarron has to do so without much field work. Carr takes most every rep preparing for the game, leaving little time to apply what he's learning in the classroom. McCarron is trying to work his way through an adverse situation, which came after Buffalo sent him away after thinking he could start for them upon signing.
The Raiders kept tabs on McCarron and pounced once it became clear Buffalo was headed in a different direction.
"We're happy to get him," offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. "He has been good since he's been here. He's been a quick study in terms of picking up the offense. He's been in the building from dawn to dusk every day. It's just a real pleasure to have him right now. He is everything we thought he was, too."