In his first preseason game last week against the Rams, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr didn’t play much.
In his brief time in the game, he looked mostly comfortable and efficient. He completed six of his nine throws for 43 yards, but was intercepted in the end zone on his final play, as he tried to force the ball into a receiver.
But as Carr heads into summer game No. 2 Saturday night against the Minnesota Vikings, there is one concern: Carr’s yards per attempt.
Last season as a rookie, Carr averaged an NFL-low 5.5 yards per pass attempt. Some critics contended Carr rarely challenged defenses with the deep ball. Some of that, of course, was attributed to his inexperience and his less-than-stellar receiving corps.
Yet against the Rams last week, Carr averaged just 4.7 yards per attempt.
This season he has standout rookie Amari Cooper and veteran Michael Crabtree as his starting wideouts, and in practices, Carr routinely has been connecting with each for big plays.
Though it’s only a preseason game in Minnesota Saturday, many Raiders fans likely will want to see evidence that this new-look Raiders attack under Jack Del Rio and Bill Musgrave will include more Carr taking shots down the field.
Certainly, the Raiders coaching staff believes Carr has the talent and arm strength to do it.
At Fresno State, too, Carr often stretched the field with deep throws. One NFL head coach, who watched a lot of tape on Carr before the 2014 draft, told a reporter that he loved Carr’s ability to throw long, saying he was “almost Elway-like the way he banged 50-yard throws. Man, he can spin the ball.”
This spring, Del Rio promised the Raiders passing game would be more daring.
“I think he throws a a great deep ball, and we didn’t throw that many here last year,” Del Rio said. “We’re going to throw some this year, so you’re going to have to cover the deep field.”
No doubt many Raiders fans are looking for a hint of that Saturday night against the Vikings.