There’s an old saying. Something ‘When you reach the bottom, there’s nowhere to go but up.’ That could describe the kind of offseason Connor Cook had for the Raiders. The third year quarterback was having trouble making even the simplest of passes. And when he tried to do more, he’d often get intercepted.
Training camp didn’t start out any better, but to his credit, he has shown some improvement since then.
It didn’t happen overnight. He had an interception on the first day, along with EJ Manuel, and up until that first scrimmage practice with the Lions on Tuesday, none of them had thrown an interception.
That first scrimmage, Derek Carr had his first interception of camp and Manuel had three. But Connor Cook had none. In the process, he continued to show improved am talent and touch on his passes.
Wednesday — the second of two scrimmage days with the Lions — was probably his best day. He had a couple of his best passes in the scrimmage, including a perfectly thrown deep ball to Martavis Bryant for a touchdown.
“He’s made great strides,” said Gruden. “He’s made good decisions. He audibled two or three times today to big plays. He’s throwing the ball short, medium and deep accurately and he’s showed really good command, and this will be a really good test for him Friday night. He’ll get a good amount of playing time.”
Tonight’s game is against those same Lions players. Although it’s backups vs backups, it’s the next step for Cook. He has a lot to prove after two seasons of getting beaten out for the primary backup spot to Derek Carr.
Each offseason he has been given the opportunity to take the backup job and has lost that battle each time — first to Matt McGloin and then to EJ Manuel.
Manuel had been having a clearly superior offseason and start to training camp and has looked like the clear frontrunner for the backup job again this season. But it’s clear Gruden likes Cook enough to believe he can still turn things around and make a late run at the job.
Friday night is big for him to see if he can take the next step or if he’s headed for another season of clipboard holding.