After back-to-back games on the road, the Oakland Raiders are finally back home, and will remain so for the next three games.
First up on the three-game home stand is a clash with the Baltimore Ravens, a team that like the Silver and Black, have lost their past two games.
Sunday's game is set to be an exciting one, but before kickoff, let's take a look at this week's edition of the Raiders.com Mailbag.
From @VincentSuh10: Will Derek Carr be ready to play soon?
EP:Vincent, I sure hope so. In all seriousness, the hope is that "DC" is only sidelined for a week or two as he recovers from a transverse process fracture he suffered last week against the Denver Broncos. In his stead, EJ Manuel will likely be the man under center for the Silver and Black until No. 4 is ready to get back on the field. Well, technically, Carr has been back on the field since Thursday, participating in both Thursday and Friday's practice in a limited capacity. Now, there's a big difference between practicing, and going out and competing on Sundays, but the fact that he's able to at least get out and toss the pigskin around bodes well for his future long-term prognosis. Backs can be finicky, but if I were you, I wouldn't be too worried about being without Carr for the foreseeable future.
From Bo P: Will we get Derek Carr back this week?
EP:"King Crab" returned to practice in a limited capacity Wednesday, and was a full participant both Thursday and Friday, giving us a pretty good indication that he'll return to the field Sunday at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The veteran wide receiver has quietly gone about his business and put together a strong start to 2017; his 170 receiving yards is tied for tops on the Raiders, and his 13 receptions are good for second on the team. A sure-handed wide receiver like No. 15 can be a quarterback's best friend, so I'm sure EJ Manuel will be breathing a little easier once he sees Crabtree hit the field Sunday afternoon.
From Melissa A: What makes EJ Manuel ready for the moment if he has to start Sunday?
EP:Well, first of all, EJ has been a starting quarterback in this league before. With 17 career starts under his belt, he's not some green, inexperienced, signal-caller trying to just navigate the NFL landscape. He knows how to prepare for a start, and let's not forget that Carr didn't play in most of the preseason, meaning Manuel and Connor Cook got a chance to work with some of the first-team players. As far as what No. 3 brings to the table from a skillset point of view, physically, the man has all the traits you look for in a quarterback. He has a strong arm, and can operate from the pocket, but he also has the ability to tuck the ball when he needs to, and use his legs to move the ball. I think it's going to be key for Manuel to get off to a hot start Sunday to build a little confidence, and if he can do that, it should spell good things for the offense as a whole.
From @reco_reed: Are we going to see more of Beast Mode?
EP:In a perfect world, would Offensive Coordinator Todd Downing like Marshawn Lynch to run for more than 12 yards on nine carries? Absolutely. I'm also pretty confident that he'd like the team as a whole to rush for more than 24 total yards too. It's no secret that the Raiders offense is at its most effective when both the ground and passing game are working in concert, but unfortunately that just hasn't been the case the past two weeks. Now, that's certainly not to say that going forward this will be the norm; I really do think that the past two offensive outputs are the exception rather than the rule. Let's get back to your original question though, will we see more of Marshawn against the Ravens? I really think we will, as long as the situation allows it. It's hard to get your running backs going when you're constantly looking at 3rd and longs, so as long as the Raiders can take care of business early, I would expect that we'll see a heavy dose of Beast Mode.
From Ron S: Amari Cooper hasn't gotten off to a blistering start, is he going to come around?
EP:Ron, you're not alone in asking this, but to borrow a phrase from Mr. Aaron Rodgers, let me just tell you to R-E-L-A-X. Look, I don't think there are many people out there who would argue that "Coop" has had the start to 2017 that we all expected, but I think it's important not to overreact to such a small sample size. Cooper is a two-time Pro Bowler for a reason; he's gone for over 1,000 yards in each of his two NFL seasons, and when he gets the ball in his hands, there aren't many players in the league who are more dynamic and explosive than he is. He's going to be just fine, and I'm hopeful that he can return to his usual ways come Sunday. EJ Manuel was asked about getting Cooper rolling, and he said that's something he's looking to do, so keep an eye on No. 89 to see if he's getting those early targets.
From Yusef D: Defensively, what's the key to slowing down the Baltimore offense?
EP:Can the Raiders defensive line generate pressure, and force Joe Flacco into making some throws that he doesn't want to make? The Raiders defense has been a pleasant surprise through four games – the defensive line in particular – and if the big men up front can get to Flacco routinely throughout Sunday's game, I think it would go a long way in helping the Raiders once again climb above .500. The Ravens have only allowed nine sacks this year, but Khalil Mack is starting to heat up, so I'm excited to see what him, Mario Edwards Jr., Bruce Irvin and the rest of the Silver and Black's defensive line have in store.