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ALAMEDA – David Carr was under constant duress during the start of his NFL career. The Houston Texans, an expansion team in Carr’s rookie season, couldn’t protect the 2002 No. 1 overall draft pick at all. He was sacked 76 times that season, and 31 times in his first five games.
Compare that to younger brother Derek, who has been protected well by the Raiders offensive line. He’s mobile and has a quick release, but Carr’s been sacked just three times in five starts. Those numbers were confirmed after first being reported by ESPN Stats and Information.
“I appreciate it a lot. I know my wife appreciates it,” Carr said. “They’ve been doing such a fantastic job, especially with the extra-effort type things – things like maybe they’re sliding one way and there’s no one there, they’re going to come back and help somewhere else. Just stuff that you, as a quarterback, sit back and watch and are so thankful that they’re doing those kind of things for you. Especially last week, we turned the film on and there are times where there’s no one within eight yards of me. I can tell you I’m very thankful for that, because I’ve learned when you get hit and when you’re on your back, you can’t complete the football, it’s physically impossible. I learned that about 12 years ago when I was a little kid (watching my brother), too. I got to see that firsthand.”
Pass protection is a whole-unit endeavor, offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. It operates well because of the line, running back help in the backfield, receivers knowing when to cut off routes and a quarterback with a quick release.
It’s also been a point of pride for these Raiders, who knew they had to help a green guy under center. They spend significant time on Fridays reviewing pressures and what they might see from the next opponent.
“It’s one of the encouraging things we’ve seen from the group,” Olson said. “It’s really encouraging to protect well when you have a young quarterback. We expected it as a coaching staff. (Offensive line/interim head coach Tony Sparano) made it very clear to those guys up front, that protection is vital with a rookie quarterback. I think they took that as a challenge, and they’ve done a good job with that.”
That’s helped production for a young quarterback exponentially better without pressure bearing down.
Carr has 1,016 passing yards, eight touchdowns, five interceptions and a 61-percent completion rate, all numbers better than older brother David through his first five games.
Derek knows a large reason for that is pass protection up front.
“Mad respect to big brother,” Derek Carr said. “Mad respect that he could physically take that, because I barely got touched one time on Sunday and woke up grabbing my neck, it was all sore. All I can say is I have a lot of respect for the toughness that guy has, because trust me, it’s not easy standing in there.”