ALAMEDA -- Raiders quarterback Derek Carr often talks about the adjustment from his rookie season to Year 2, and how the game slows down and feels more like a regular event.
Regular-season openers may be an exemption, though. Carr admitted having some extra juice early in Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals, and lit up the radar gun a bit too much.
“I got so excited for the first week that I was throwing fastballs,” Carr said. “I was out there trying to throw through people. That was just me being excited those first couple series.
“That dates back to the Jets game (from my rookie year). I remember that first game. You’re just so excited to play the game and you’re out there and it matters now. On the series I got hurt in actually I was feeling good, seeing it fine, felt good throwing it and then ‘Bam!’ it happened. That’s just what’s going to happen. I definitely felt good after those first couple of drives.”
Carr was firing bullets his receivers couldn’t handle, which hindered early offensive rhythm. Carr settled down some, until his day was cut short by a throwing hand bruise trying to stiff-arm a defender. He got hurt in the Raiders’ fourth series, but that scary moment didn’t have long-term effects.
Carr’s hand continues to get positive reviews during a practice week follow medical tests that revaled no structural damage. He was throwing accurate passes with zip in open periods of practice, and has gotten more confident in his hand.
“He was better (Thursday) than (Wednesday),” offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said. “(Wednesday) was still good, but (Thursday) he appeared more confident with cutting it loose and those kind of things.”
The Raiders haven’t cut it loose much with Carr at the helm. That was the case again in Week 1.
The Raiders went 3-and-out on the first series, a first down on the second and two more on the third. Then Carr got hurt. The Bengals were up 10-0 at that point, but tallied 14 more points before halftime that sealed the Raiders’ fate.
Carr was 7-for-12 for 61 yards with two dropped passes in the opener. He averaged just 5.1 yards per attempt despite a desire to work the ball downfield.
The same could be said of Minnesota’s Teddy Bridgewater, Cleveland’s Johnny Manziel and Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles. The top four quarterbacks from last year’s draft class struggled in their sophomore openers. Those things happen to young quarterbacks, who are far from perfect in the early going.
Carr has received praise and criticism alike since becoming a rookie starter, and many expect him to take positive steps this season. Progress, however, is not guaranteed.
Carr is good at self-evaluation and believes steady production was the biggest problem during his short stint in the Bengals loss.
“We have to be more efficient first and second down, myself included,” Carr said on Wednesday. "I have to be more efficient in where to throw the football, what coverage are they playing and what’s the best option to help us do that. As long as we stick to the game plan, we watch the film and it’s like we all took little turns. As long as we can put it together, we saw good things. As long as we can do that, we’ll be just fine.”