Starter: Derek Carr
Depth: Connor Cook, EJ Manuel
Additions: EJ Manuel
Depatures: Matt McGloin
The unquestioned starter is Derek Carr. The third-year pro was named to his second Pro Bowl last season and who was in the discussion for league MVP heading into the final few weeks. He was recently ranked at number 11 in the NFL Top 100. In week 16, Carr was lost to a broken fibula. At the time he was just 63 passing yards from 4000 on the season and had thrown 28 touchdowns to 6 interceptions. Five of those touchdown passes were game winners – an NFL record.
Matt McGloin left as a free agent, which figured to move Connor Cook into the primary backup job. After minicamp, that job is no longer a given. EJ Manuel was added this offseason and played well enough to take second team reps from Cook.
The two swapped reps with the second team in minicamp with Manuel outplaying Cook considerably by the end of offseason practices.
Jack Del Rio was impressed with what he’s seen from Manuel and said he and Cook will continue to rotate with the second team come training camp.
“He’s a good young man. He has some abilities,” Del Rio said of Manuel. “He’s been really good in the room. I think that room is strong right now, the quarterback room. Really healthy environment. I think he’s come in and he and Connor [Cook] are battling for the backup spot. They’ve alternated days, who’s working with the second group, who’s with the third group. They’ve alternated all throughout the offseason. We’ll continue that through training camp until we feel like someone’s earned that designation.”
Having a veteran like Manuel step up and show some skills is great news for this quarterback unit as a whole. While Cook certainly played poorly enough to lose the primary backup job, Manuel played well enough to earn it, so it’s not simply a lesser of evils situation from the looks of things.
The injury to Carr hit the Raiders very hard. But that was more a testament to how much the team was relying on him to make up for a lackluster defense. McGloin was in over his head and then he too was injured which thrust a rookie into service against two very tough defenses in Denver and Houston. Any team would have been in trouble in that scenario. Cook is in his second season now and Manuel is a veteran former starter.
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