ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — Jack Del Rio believes the Raiders are better equipped to handle the loss of Derek Carr than they were late in the 2016 season when the starting quarterback suffered a season-ending broken leg.
Back then, Oakland had minimal experience to lean on. Journeyman backup Matt McGloin started the regular-season finale but injured his left shoulder and was knocked out of the game. Rookie Connor Cook, a fourth-round draft pick who replaced McGloin and made his first career start the following week in the playoffs, didn’t fare much better.
Del Rio expects things to be different with EJ Manuel running Oakland’s offense while Carr recovers from a broken bone in his back.
“Last year in the playoff game we had a rookie making his first start,” Del Rio said Wednesday. “Obviously a lot better situation to have a guy who’s taken snaps in the league, started games and will have time to prepare. It’s a lot different scenario.”
Manuel will make his first start of the season when the Raiders play the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday at the Coliseum.
The 16th-overall pick and the first quarterback drafted in 2013, Manuel had some positive moments after replacing Carr late in the third quarter last week against Denver. He completed his first eight passes, threw for 106 yards and directed a scoring drive before throwing an interception in the final two minutes after moving Oakland inside the Broncos’ 40-yard line.
That experience, along with his past as a backup in Buffalo, has Manuel feeling confident heading into Sunday.
“The only issue was the pick at the end,” Manuel said. “I wish I would have took it down and ran or maybe checked it down or threw the ball outside a little more for (wide receiver Amari Cooper) to help him out.”
Other than getting the majority of reps in practice, Manuel hasn’t altered his daily routine much. Everything has remained the same, from the time he arrives in the morning to eat breakfast with Carr until the time he hops in his car to head home for the night.
Oakland’s offense isn’t expected to change much either.
Manuel and offensive coordinator Todd Downing worked together when both were in Buffalo during the 2014 season when Downing served as the Bills’ quarterbacks coach. Manuel was also teammates with Raiders center Rodney Hudson in college at Florida State.
“I’m looking at this as an opportunity that’s before me,” Manuel said. “I’m not necessarily looking at it as a second chance because I’m on the team. I want to go out here and help our team win.”
The only adjustments will likely come from Oakland’s wide receivers.
“All quarterbacks throw a little bit different,” Cooper said. “I think EJ throws the ball a little bit harder. I’ll have to adjust to that.”
Manuel could have a full complement of wide receivers to throw to this week. Michael Crabtree, who was held out of last week’s game in Denver because of a chest injury, practiced and Del Rio is optimistic the veteran wideout will play against the Ravens.
Notes: Cornerback David Amerson was limited in practice and is still in the concussion protocol. Right guard Gabe Jackson (foot) was held out of practice and worked out in a pool along with Carr. In Jackson’s absence, Vadal Alexander worked at right guard with the first-team offense. First-round draft pick Gareon Conley (shin) and defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. (back) were both held out.
More AP NFL: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP—NFL