ALAMEDA -- For the first time in his NFL career, Derek Carr has a superstar wide receiver. Full stop.
With all apologies to Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper, Carr never has had a receiver that had even half the talent that Antonio Brown possesses. Brown is a pristine route runner with blazing speed, unflappable hands and a knack for the big play. When the lights come on, he's virtually unstoppable.
The Raiders and Carr are hoping Brown's presence on the offense will take the unit from ho-hum to electric in 2019, but first Carr has to figure out how to orchestrate an offense that has a receiver of Brown's talent level. How often should he target No. 84? Is there such a thing as looking for Brown too much? What is best for the Raiders' offense?
Since the Raiders acquired Brown in March, Carr has reached out to a number of former NFL quarterbacks who have played with talents like Brown and picked their brain on the best way to view the supernova talent who will be his go-to weapon.
"Oh man, yeah and I've done -- you know I've talked with Rich Gannon, I've talked with Kurt Warner, I've talked with my brother who played with Andre Johnson -- the list goes on and on about people that I've talked with, quarterbacks, that have played with great receivers," Carr told reporters Wednesday after practice. "Those type of Hall-of-Fame caliber receivers. Every one of them to a man has said, 'You go through your reads and you play football because as soon as you start doing other stuff that's where you get into trouble.'
"That was one of the major things I had to be conscious of like if there's a certain game where the targets aren't like that, I'm just doing what coach told me to do. I can't worry about that kind of stuff because if I'm worried about that then I'm not keeping everyone in mind. I have to make sure that I always keep the right picture in mind, make sure I'm going through the right read, throwing it to the right place, and coach does a great job of making sure he's got his fair share of plays in the offense, and No. 1 in the progression if not No. 2, you know? All those kind of things to where we are making sure he's getting the ball. I just let coach Gruden deal with that and I try and play quarterback."
Carr has shown he has the talent to be an MVP-caliber quarterback in the NFL. In 2016, Carr was one of the best signal-callers in the NFL, leading the Raiders to a 12-4 record.
Last year, with a lack of offensive weapons and an offensive line struggling to protect him, Carr had a subpar season in Year 1 in coach Jon Gruden's offense.
Now, with Brown, Tyrell Williams, Hunter Renfrow, Josh Jacobs and Darren Waller forming an electric skill group, Carr has the necessary weapons to once again torment opposing defenses.
It all starts with Brown, though. He and Carr spent a lot of time together in the offseason getting their timing and chemistry down so the Raiders can hit the ground running.
Carr might not spoon-feed Brown on every play, but expect No. 4 and No. 84 to hook up early and often.
After all, there's no talent quite like Brown.