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Raiders preseason: A dominant and dynamic duo

It was a glimpse, but what the Derek Carr-Davante Adams connection did in the New England joint practices is encouraging

Las Vegas Raiders Training Camp
It was almost like Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels, center, told quarterback Derek Carr (4) that no New England Patriots defender could cover wide receiver Davante Adams, left, during the two team’s joint practice on Tuesday.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Bulldogs are about to plunder as Raiders. That’s the basic gist when it comes to the Derek Carr-Davante Adams connection. The reunited dynamic Fresno State duo is sporting Silver & Black together and were dominant in the opening day of joint practices between the Las Vegas Raiders and visiting New England Patriots on Tuesday.

The torrent of tweets and posts about the dimes Carr was throwing to his collegiate and now Raider teammate were a testament to this. The observations were flying as gloriously as Carr targeted his wideout and how Adams made grab after grab — including an impressive one-hand haul where he kept his feet inbounds for a touchdown. The DC4-DA17 connection did what ever they wanted facing New England’s defense on Tuesday and again on Wednesday. It’s almost as if Josh McDaniels was showing his mentor Bill Belichick “I’ve got something serious brewing over in the desert.”

Carr-Adams vs. the Patriots defensive backs wasn’t a fair fight during the joint practice sessions and showed everyone the chemistry between the quarterback and wide receiver hasn’t waned despite the prolific Fresno State combo spending the majority of their respective NFL careers apart (Carr with the Raiders, Adams with the Green Bay Packers). It gave the Silver & Black a glorious glimpse of what’s possible in the 2022 campaign. It was a supremely encouraging sign that the “all-in” type trade Las Vegas made with Green Bay is going to stamp “elite” on the McDaniels’ Raiders offense.

“We were obviously looking forward to it. As you can see how training camp has progressed and the preseason, this was an important week for us,” Carr said of being able to throw to Adams against a live opponent. “So getting these reps is crucial for us. So to be able to connect on some things is good, but I think we missed one — the one that we missed on the left, we’re going to look at it and be hard on ourselves and be like, ‘How can we make that one?’ That’s what I learned from Coach (Jon) Gruden; awesome, you completed 26 out of 29, but what happened on these three? Just keeping that mindset to just always strive to be better, that’s what I’ve always done, and I’m trying to do that even more with everybody this year.”

Carr and Adams can talk all day about how fun the reunion is or what they’re looking forward to accomplishing together as Raiders. The joint practice explosions are an example of the jubilation the duo have. But both will tell you what matters is dominating when the games count. Showing out in joint practices against the Patriots is one thing — and New England could very well rebound nicely in further practices and the upcoming preseason game between the two — but doing so consistently from Week 1 to 17 is where it counts. It will be very troubling if Carr and Adams can’t parlay the domination to live opponents during the regular season — or even when the Raiders and Patriots meet for real for a Sunday night Week 15 clash on Dec. 18 at Allegiant Stadium.

NFL: Hall of Fame Game-Jacksonville Jaguars at Las Vegas Raiders
Just how far the Las Vegas Raiders offense will rides heavily on quarterback Derek Carr’s, left, and wide receiver Davante Adams’, right, capable shoulders.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

“On the field is what matters. We can talk about it all we want, but if we can’t do it against our defense or against whoever comes into town, then that’s a problem,” Carr said of his connection with Adams. “So far it’s been good, it’s been fun. Him and I will both tell you that there are still things that I’m used to doing, that he’s used to doing and we’re finding that place in-between to be able to say, ‘Okay, let’s do it this way, let’s do that.’ And we’re still working. Nothing’s promised, but we’ve been able to hit some big plays here and there, and we’ve missed on a few where we’re like, ‘Oh man, we could do it like this,’ and then we make the correction and that’s what this time is for. And you hope that there are more positive plays than there are correctable plays.

“So far it’s been a lot of fun.”

Future Shock

Adams’ career-high touchdown mark is 18 — accomplished in 2020 with Aaron Rodgers as his quarterback. The wide receiver’s career-high receptions and yardage mark is 123 and 1,553 yards, set this past season in Green Bay. Setting new career-highs in those aforementioned categories is possible, but likely difficult as a Raider. Adams will certainly draw his fair share of targets, but so will slot receiver Hunter Renfrow, tight end Darren Waller, and the stable of running backs. This makes the potential for Adams re-writing his own personal bests difficult.

Flip it to Carr and his career-high touchdown passes sits at 32 — set back in 2015. He set career marks for completions (428) and yards (4,804) this past season. Adams’ addition along with McDaniels play calling has the potential for Carr to reach a new plateau for touchdown passes.

For me, with the new play caller, the addition of Adams along with having Renfrow, Waller and tailbacks to throw too, eclipsing 32 should be not only something Carr can do, it’s something he should do. I get it, it’s highly offensive-line dependent, however, McDaniels doesn’t have to protect Carr as he did Mac Jones when the latter was a rookie signal caller for New England.