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Marcus Mariota was ‘spectacular’ in Raiders’ debut

Coach Jon Gruden doesn’t say much about rest of season for backup

Los Angeles Chargers v Las Vegas Raiders
Marcus Mariota
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Marcus Mariota was considered a major disappointment for the Las Vegas Raiders ... until they needed him.

Inserted into Thursday night’s eventual 30-27 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers after starter Derek Carr left with a groin injury, Mariota stepped right in and led the Las Vegas offense. In his first extensive playing time since October 2019 while with the Tennessee Titans, Mariota was terrific Thursday as he completed 17-of-28 passes for 226 yards and ran for 88 yards on nine carries.

This performance was stunning considering Mariota’s short time with the Raiders after signing a big deal. Mariota had a poor training camp and was hurt in August. He even spent several weeks as the Raiders’ No. 3 quarterback behind Carr and Nathan Peterman.

Raiders coach Jon Gruden was fired up about Mariota. It is unknown if Carr will be back to play against the Miami Dolphins on December 26 and Gruden didn’t want to address any of the possibilities. Clearly, though, the Raiders feel good about Mariota if he has to play again.

“I’m not going to be able to answer all those questions,” Gruden said. “Derek’s health will be determined here in a couple days, but what Marcus did last night was spectacular. We felt that the No. 1 thing we had to do with Marcus was get him healthy again. That’s what hurt him in Tennessee, and obviously his ankle looked healthy last night.

“His shoulder looked healthy. He came to training camp and he hurt his pec, so we kept him on ice and we kept him in the rehab until he was healthy, and then we put him back out there as the No. 2 quarterback.

“When this kid is healthy, this guy is a special playmaker and I think he proved it last night. But in regards to your other question, we’ll determine Derek’s health and make those decisions here in the next several days.”