NAPA –- Derek Carr is the Raiders’ unquestioned starting quarterback. The plan is for him to take every regular-season snap in 2015 and beyond.
Christian Ponder was signed in free agency to be the first man off the bench should adversity strike, but third-year pro Matt McGloin has six starts to his name and is a hard-nosed competitor who consistently plays well in the preseason.
McGloin certainly won’t concede the No. 2 job. Ponder has had some shaky practices, but both players have performed well. Ponder has been strong since a solid performance in Friday’s preseason game, and McGloin has flashed running the third unit.
"We signed Christian to be our backup, but we're not handing out," Raiders head coach Del Rio said. "Jobs have to be earned. There'll be competition but we feel good about the group we have there."
Ponder was 6-for-8 for 59 yards, a touchdown and an interception in Friday’s exhibition victory over the St. Louis Rams. McGloin was ultra-sharp, completing 10-of-11 passes for 104 yards and a touchdown.
Del Rio didn’t want to handicap that position battle specifically, but said media would see in practice if there was a change in the pecking order.
Outside of McGloin running a handful of reps with the second unit on Thursday, the hierarchy remains the same. Ponder remains the backup heading into Saturday’s game at the Minnesota Vikings, the team he spent the last four years representing.
“He’s got a lot of starts in the league,” Del Rio said. “He’s got a lot of experience. He’s got a knowledge having been with [offensive coordinator Bill] Musgrave before. He understands Bill’s system a little bit, some of the terminology. He brings experience and quarterback ability. He knows Bill real well. With that combination of things, he was attractive to us in terms of bringing him in as a free agent.”
Ponder was drafted No. 12 overall in the 2011 draft. He started 10 games as a rookie on a team that made the playoffs and started each game in 2012, but lost his starting gig in his third season. He was the No. 3 guy in Minnesota in 2014 and was allowed to leave as a free agent.
McGloin came to the Raiders in 2013 as an undrafted free agent. He was pressed into duty that season after Matt Flynn lost a starting job and Terrelle Pryor flamed out after a decent start.
He was the No. 3 quarterback in 2014 behind Carr and veteran Matt Schaub. He’d obviously like the No. 2 spot behind Carr, and will try his best to earn it.
“It makes you such a better quarterback, mentally and once we get out here, we get after it,” McGloin told the Raiders’ team website. “We compete with one another, trying to push each other day in and day out. It’s a healthy competition and I’m glad to be a part of it.”
The quarterback room remains friendly and productive, with three options with NFL starts to their credit and an ability to step in and perform if required.
“There’s definitely competition, but we all are rooting for each other,” Ponder told the team website. “We all have each other’s backs and we want each other to be the best. We understand competition is going to help us, and we do want to put our best on film every day in practice and in the preseason and whenever we play in the regular season if that happens.”