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Josh McDaniels says Derek Carr will ‘absolutely’ be Raiders Week 1 starter

Notes from McDaniels’ Indy presser

NFL: Scouting Combine
Josh McDaniels
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

New Las Vegas Raiders coach Josh McDaniels met with the media on Wednesday for the first time since his Jan. 31 introduction presser conference, at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

McDaniels, who is always careful and guarded with his words publicly, didn’t break a lot of news during his media session, but he did commit to quarterback Derek Carr for this season, as expected. Here are some highlights:

  • On quarterback Derek Carr’s contract talks:
    Despite recent reports that the Raiders are prepared to discuss a contract extension for Carr, who is entering the final year of his contract, McDaniels said there is nothing new going on in that regard, but it can always change.

But he did say in an interview with the NFL Network after his podium stint that “there’s no doubt about it” that Carr will be the Raiders’ Week 1 quarterback this year. That’s been expected, but it’s interesting that McDaniels has put his name to that plan so early in the offseason.

McDaniels also said the new Raiders’ brass is aware of Carr’s contract situation. He added that he is enjoying getting to know Carr.

UPDATE: Later Wednesday, new Las Vegas general manager Dave Ziegler commented on McDaniels’ comments on Carr and said “that’s the plan.” Thus, there’s an out if things take an unexpected turn.

On whether 2021 first-round pick, Alex Leatherwood, will play right tackle or guard:
McDaniels was completely noncommittal on the subject. He did say Leatherwood will have a role and the coaching staff is looking forward to coaching him. I think there are variables in this situation, based on who may be available in free agency and in the draft and what the new coaching staff sees of Leatherwood on the practice field. So, stay tuned on this one,

On whether the Raiders’ will stay a 4-3 defense or become a 3-4 base, which new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham has run:
Like he did in his first presser, before Graham was hired, McDaniels downplayed the importance of labeling a defensive front because 80-85 percent of the time, defenses are in the nickel or dime defense. McDaniels said he wants this defense to be multiple based on the opponent and it will play to the strengths of the personnel. If we see the Raiders bring in front-seven defenders who played in Graham’s scheme before, we should have our answer.

On free-agent approach:
McDaniels didn’t say much, but reading between the lines, it sounded as if the Raiders’ approach is to be measured and added to the team as the offseason goes along. He said it will be a year-long approach. Whether or not that means that the Raiders will not be overly active at the start of free agency (the market moves fast) remains to be seen. In a Tuesday podcast with the team’s website, he noted that there are current Raiders that may need to be extended as well. Carr, defensive end Maxx Crosby and slot receiver Hunter Renfrow are among the team’s 2023 free agents.

On Josh Jacobs’ future with the team:
McDaniels was asked about the future of starting running back Josh Jacobs and whether the Raiders will exercise his fifth-year option by the spring deadline. The coach didn’t answer the option question in the below clip, but said he is excited about coaching Jacobs. He said the two have talked about Jacobs using better ball security in 2022. It will be interesting to see what the team’s option decision will be.