Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio, quarterback Derek Carr and wide receiver Amari Cooper all met with the media after practice on Tuesday.
Del Rio went first and said that today’s practice had a Wednesday type of feel to it. This was done to help some of the younger players understand what regular season prep work feels like.
Oakland plays the Dallas Cowboys in a nationally televised preseason game on Saturday night. While the Raiders and Cowboys will meet again this season, Del Rio isn’t too concerned about that citing, “they’re gonna see us and we’ll see them.”
Del Rio is pleased to have defensive end Jihad Ward back off the PUP list. He was excited to see the work he was putting during the offseason before the injury, believing that Ward will have that second-year leap like we’re seeing out of safety Karl Joseph. He sees Ward as being “more decisive in everything he [does],…but he’ll have some rust to work through.”
Since Donald Penn has not reported to the Raiders yet, again Del Rio was not going to bite on the question, answering with the generic, “I’ll just coach the guys that are here.” He did say that the offensive line has played well this summer and it has helped make the Raiders defensive line into the best position group on the defense in his mind.
Carr would take the podium next and speak the longest of the three men. He said “it’s been 100 percent positive” in the reaction to him putting his arm on teammate Khalil Mack‘s shoulder during the playing of the national anthem in the most recent preseason game with the Los Angeles Rams. He would add, “we wanted to show [the world] that we love each other.” Carr and Mack are the best of buds on this Raiders team.
The biggest takeaway from Carr’s time at the podium was how excited he is to play in Todd Downing’s offense. He feels it to be more versatile than what he had been running under Bill Musgrave‘s watch, but wouldn’t say that directly.
Carr would point out how he likes that all three tight ends can get involved in the passing game and that the Raiders, “can run anything out of any personnel formation.” Lee Smith is normally a blocking tight end, but had two great grabs against the Rams, including the first touchdown of the preseason game.
“We can run anything out of any personnel formation.” – Raiders QB Derek Carr on new OC Todd Downing’s offense
While “it would mean a lot to have [Donald Penn] back”, Carr thinks both Marshall Newhouse and rookie David Sharpe did a great job on Saturday in protecting his blind side.
Before Cooper would come to the podium, Carr would mention that he feels confident in being able to throw jump balls in the middle of the field to his No. 1 wideout now. Cooper would say on that 31-yard reception Saturday, “it’s always good to make a big play.” To Cooper, it’s a way that the entire offense can gain confidence on him being able to come down with a grab like that.
Cooper would talk about his commitment to becoming a voracious reader, but the best takeaway from his part of the press conference was how veteran receiver Michael Crabtree has influenced his game.
Crabtree is a physical receiver by nature, often using his hands at the line of scrimmage to get open. Cooper views his teammate as “a gamer” and expects to use his upper body to get open, especially in the red zone. Basically, it’s not just his quick legs that Cooper will use to his advantage as a Pro Bowl receiver any more. Look for a big third year out of him this fall for the Silver and Black.