ALAMEDA – Injury prevented Raiders quarterback Derek Carr from throwing to first-round pick Amari Cooper this offseason.
Carr bowed out with right finger issues shortly after the Alabama receiver was selected No. 4 overall in the NFL draft, and the pair never cross paths in a practice.
Carr was a full participant in the first session of a mandatory minicamp, and was able to connect with Cooper for the first time.
Every exchange wasn’t perfect – chemistry is built over time, you know – but the pair found each other several times. The best came in a two-minute drill at practice’s end, when Carr found Cooper in stride for a big gain and plenty of yards after the catch.
Carr and Cooper must become fast friends for the Raiders offense to get up and go. Timing starts in minicamp, but it’ll be forged during training camp later this summer.
Cooper made a solid first impression on his passing partner.
“It was nice to get out there and see just how quick he is out of his breaks,” Carr said. “There was a ball I put just behind him where, if I lead him a bit, it would’ve been a big play. That’s a result of us just getting our timing down. But it also shows how fast he gets into a route and that I can just let it go. That’s so nice.
“It was good to get out there and throw to him. I think he’s going to be special if he continues to work like he does.”
Here are some other notes from Day 1 of Raiders minicamp:
-- The Raiders are getting healthy as the offseason wraps up. Defensive tackle Dan Williams participated in individual and some team drills after missing most of the offseason program with an undisclosed ailment. The Raiders won’t disclose injuries during the offseason.
-- Linebacker Sio Moore continues to increase activity as the offseason progresses, and was involved in a significant volume of team drills on Tuesday. He’s been recovering from hip surgery. He’s been on the second team, and isn’t expected to re-gain full speed until training camp.
--Receiver Brice Butler was only active in individual drills. He’s been out some this offseason. Running back George Atkinson III was also out on Tuesday.
-- The Raiders have mixed and matched players on the right side of the offensive line in search of a starting crew that won’t be revealed until into training camp. Menelik Watson was the first-team right tackle and career tackle J’Marcus Webb was at right guard. Austin Howard has been the primary right tackle and Khalif Barnes has played right guard. Barnes worked as second-team left tackle.
Head coach Jack Del Rio said Webb is working at both guard and tackle spots. Tony Bergstrom has been the primary backup center.
-- Amari Cooper made some nice catches, but was frustrated when he dropped a few. The worst came when a Derek Carr pass clanked off his hands and was intercepted by linebacker Curtis Lofton in the opposing red zone.
-- Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. is an animated fellow, with praise and criticism. Safety Charles Woodson made a nice pass breakup down the sideline, and Norton was upset when Woodson’s teammates didn’t offer congratulations. Later on, cornerback Keith McGill broke up a pass, and Norton was critical of the fact he didn’t intercept the pass.
-- Recent signee Trindon Holliday joined a rotation of punt returners that includes Cooper, cornerback TJ Carrie and rookie Austin Willis.
-- There shouldn’t be concern over Carr’s injury. He was a full participant in this practice and had plenty of zip on his passes. Backup Christian Ponder shows plenty of arm strength as well, especially on deep and intermediate passes.