Led By Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders Offense Enjoying Strong Preseason

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Quarterback Derek Carr

The pump fake was good; I mean it was *really *good.

Not only did Derek Carr freeze Dallas Cowboys safety Byron Jones just long enough for Amari Cooper to get a step on his defensive teammate Anthony Brown, but the quick arm action also faked out the camera man shooting the broadcast.

Seconds later, Cooper waltzed into the end zone, five yards clear of Brown after Jones' unsuccessful dive sent him barreling into the sideline. Carr ran down the field, met No. 89 in the end zone, gave a few celebratory helmet pats and a jump, and after a celebratory fist pump, retreated back to the bench.

And that's likely where he'll stay until September 10 when the Silver and Black open up the regular season on the road against Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans.

With just under two minutes left in the first half, Carr ceded the quarterbacking duties to EJ Manuel, and then later Connor Cook, ending his night 13 of 17 for 144 yards and two touchdowns, putting a nice bow on his preseason in the process.

It's doubtful that Carr will strap the pads back on Thursday during the preseason finale against the Seattle Seahawks, but even if he doesn't, he's gotten enough snaps under center, and made enough impressive throws to show that his broken fibula from last December may as well have occurred a football lifetime ago.

In two preseason appearances Carr completed 20 of 26 passes for 244 yards, found the end zone an impressive four times, and averaged a quarterback rating of 126.5.

Not bad, right?

"Precision passing," said guard/tackle Vadal Alexander when discussing Carr. "That dude is a great player. He's our leader, our quarterback. He was on it tonight. That's what we expect from him. That's what we know he works every day to have to be ready."

While Carr's performance over the past two weeks has understandably received high billing, the Silver and Black's first team offense as a whole has enjoyed a strong few weeks in the preseason.

Running back Marshawn Lynch – albeit in limited exposure – looks as advertised, and combined with Jalen Richard and DeAndré Washington, the Raiders running game looks poised to be even more potent than it was just a year ago.

And as far as the options that Carr has to work with on the outside, well, you'll be hard pressed to find another NFL roster with as many talented options. And in the early goings of 2017, the Carr to Cooper connection seems to already hitting its stride.

"That's a very potent connection right there," Alexander explained. "When we can get that guy going [Cooper], really good things happen for our offense, and he's a big playmaker for us, and that was definitely a fun play."

Added wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, "'Coop' and Derek can do anything they want to do."

Does Offensive Coordinator Todd Downing's group have some room to improve between now and September 10? Absolutely, but if Carr and the starters are spectators Thursday night, they should be pleased with what they've done since training camp wrapped.

"There's a lot of things we're going to see in the tape that are things that were done right, but then, like in any game, there are going to be things that we need to improve on for Week 1 in the [regular] season," Alexander said. "It was a good feeling having ended this game – or ended the ones reps – scoring touchdowns and moving the ball."

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