Editor’s note: This is the final part in a series that spotlights three Raiders-Rams matchups to watch Sunday, 10 a.m., at Edward Jones Dome.
Raiders QB Derek Carr vs. Rams SS T.J. McDonald
Tale of the tape:
Carr (4): 6-foot-3, 214 pounds, rookie season, Fresno State
McDonald (25): 6-foot-2, 217 pounds, second season, Southern California
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr and Rams safety T.J. McDonald have a lot in common.
Both guys grew up -– largely, in Carr’s case -– in the San Joaquin Valley. Carr’s brother David was an NFL quarterback. The brothers both went to Fresno State.
McDonald’s father Tim was an NFL safety. Father and son went to USC.
McDonald’s dad was on staff at Fresno State when Carr was a Bulldog. Derek and T.J. have known each other a while, and worked out together on several occasions.
They’ll be on the same field again Sunday when the Raiders play the Rams at Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, just on opposite sidelines.
Quite often, Carr and McDonald will be reading each other for clues to what the other is doing. It’ll be a key matchup in a game where points are at a premium.
That’s acknowledged on both sides. While old friends will try and best each other, there’s plenty of respect shared between the two.
“One thing about Derek that’s always stood out is his leadership ability and the intangibles at quarterback,” McDonald said in a conference call. “He’s a guy that guys just seem to gravitate towards and always has a positive attitude. That’s one thing I knew that he was going to be able to bring to the NFL, and then also his ability and the throws that he’s got. He’s got a good bloodline, throws the ball really well, can move around pretty well. So I knew he was a good player.”
Due in some part to football lineage, Carr and McDonald have acclimated quickly to the NFL game.
Carr is the most NFL-ready member of this year’s NFL draft class, with 11 starts already under his belt. He has 2,209 yards, 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions and stands as a highlight during the Raiders’ 1-10 campaign.
McDonald also started as a rookie, and has logged 21 starts since being drafted in the third round of the 2013 draft. He has 70 tackles, five passes defensed and a sack this season, during which he has played every defensive snap. He also blocked a punt and a field goal in a victory over Tampa Bay.
McDonald is as active as any safety, and Carr will keep a close eye on him throughout the game.
“The guy is awesome,” Carr said. “He was great in college running around hitting people. He is still doing the same thing. You turn the film on and you just see him fly around hitting people. I’ll have to tell him to calm down a little bit.”