Michael Crabtree has great respect for Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. That was clear last year, when the veteran flew across the country for an off-the-books passing camp.
In Bakersfield. During the quietest time in the NFL calendar.
NFL players spent late June on white-sand beaches, during a month-long respite for training camp. Crabtree gave up a weekend in the San Joaquin Valley, working with Carr and other Raiders receivers.
Carr missed most of 2015’s offseason program with a nerve issue, and Crabtree wanted to build chemistry with his new quarterback. He has known Carr for years, after playing with his brother David as a 49er.
Connection between passer and catcher came quick and powerful. Crabtree became a reliable option in his first year as a Raider, leading the team with 85 receptions and nine touchdown catches. His 922 receiving yards was the highest since 2012, before an Achilles’ tendon tear slowed his productive pace.
Working well with Carr, fellow receiver Amari Cooper and the Raiders offensive scheme was an experience he wanted to continue. Crabtree signed a four-year contract extension last December, despite the fact he would’ve been prized in a lackluster free-agent receiver class.
Crabtree chose continuity, hoping to build off last year’s effort.
“We know each other and we’re just going to feed off of each other and get better,” Crabtree said, “really just taking that step up from last year.”
Crabtree believes Carr is ready for a big jump.
“I’ve seen him grow,” Crabtree said. “The guy is amazing. He’s got talent. We talk all the time on ways to get better on the field and I feel like he has taken that step, taken control of the offense, doing more managing of the game at the end and the beginning.”
While Carr can be a good game manager, he’s certainly confident making all the throws even under duress. At times, he’s going to make tough plays look easy.
“I feel like that gunslinger, he is always going to be a gunslinger and I love that. That’s the old Brett Favre-type of quarterback, but really managing Brett Favre. Brett Favre is one of the greatest players to ever play.”
There are lot of good quarterbacks in the NFL, but Crabtree would pick his guy first.
“The quarterback runs the team. If I had to pick any guy, it would be Derek Carr,” Crabtree said. “I’m just ready to go out there and show the world (what we can do).”