LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – Derek Carr isn’t sure he’ll play Sunday in the Raiders’ exhibition game. But he knows he’ll have lots to do if he doesn’t take a snap.
The Raiders have a new coach in Josh McDaniels, and Carr, the starting quarterback, needs to be an extension of the coach. Playing time helps that relationship, but fearing injury to their most important performers, coaches use starters – especially quarterbacks — sparingly in games that don’t count.
“I think the most important thing I do during the preseason is communicating with Josh,” Carr said this week during training camp. Carr didn’t play in the team’s Hall of Fame Game victory over Jacksonville, but he made sure to stay close to McDaniels as Jarrett Stidham ran the offense.
“When a situation would come up, I’d walk over to him [McDaniels], while Jarrett was doing the normal sit down and go through it,” Carr said. “I would go to Josh and just start asking questions. I’d ask him, ‘You know when you said this, what did you mean by that?’ We’re growing that way, too. Training camp and preseason, all of that is a big time to learn and just gain as much as you can to get better. I feel like I can get better by learning. Asking, ‘Josh, what are you thinking on this?’ Because I want to make sure. I’m trying to execute it exactly how he wants it done.”
Carr probably will do more of the same when the Raiders face the Minnesota Vikings at 1:25 p.m. Sunday in Allegiant Stadium, their second of four exhibitions.
But then McDaniels sort of bucked the trend of not playing starters in the opener, relying heavily on running back Josh Jacobs on the first offensive series. Jacobs, who has been dinged more than a bit during his brief career, had seven touches on the team’s first 11 plays. Four of the team’s top offensive linemen got some snaps, as did No. 2 tight end Foster Moreau and receiver Keelan Cole.
McDaniels was hush-hush Friday on how he’ll use starters against the Vikings. But he did want starters to know exhibition games can help them become aware of how a new coaching staff plans to approach situations. Learning, apparently, can be accomplished on the sideline. Watch, listen, absorb.
“There’s all these different elements of the game that we don’t have that many opportunites to go through before Sept. 11. [regular-season opener],” McDaniels said.
The one player who is unlikely to play against Minnesota is standout tight end Darren Waller; a hamstring injury has kept him from participating in most sessions this training camp.
As for the Vikings, playing their exhibition opener, quarterback Kirk Cousins won’t play after testing positive for COVID-19. The Raiders expect to see Sean Mannion start at QB
The Vikings have a new coach in Kevin O’Connell, who was Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator for two seasons. O’Connell, who gets some credit for helping quarterback Mathew Stafford in the Rams’ run to victory in the Super Bowl, replaces Mike Zimmer. Zimmer spent eight seasons in Minnesota, compiling a 72-56-1 record and two division titles.
The Vikings also are likely to see major changes defensively under new new coordinator Ed Donatell; he’s switching to a 3-4 scheme up front.