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Training Camp Notebook: Connor Cook impresses in practice against Detroit Lions

After a quality two days of energy and intensity, the Oakland Raiders wrapped up their pair of joint practices with the Detroit Lions Wednesday afternoon.

The two teams will meet again Friday night to open up the preseason at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, but before we look down the road to Week 1 at the OACC, let’s take stock of who had a nice two days against the Lions:

Derek Carr – the Raiders’ franchise quarterback was as expected against live competition; we won’t see a ton of him this Friday night, but No. 4 seems to be at a good place for this juncture of training camp.

The rookie defensive tackles – Maurice Hurst and P.J. Hall also made their impressions felt over the past two days. Along with Justin Ellis and Mario Edwards Jr., if all goes to plan, the Silver and Black will have quite the formidable interior rush, something they’ve been sorely missing the past few years.

Jared Cook and Derek Carrier – Wednesday in particular, the two of tight ends were a thorn in the collective side of the Detroit Lion’s defense, routinely finding themselves open in space, and making life difficult for the Detroit linebackers. Head Coach Jon Gruden is on the record saying how much he loves utilizing the tight ends, so keep an eye on them over the next month.

Another player who no doubt put his best foot forward over the last 48 hours? Quarterback Connor Cook.

Now in the early stages of his third season as a Raider, Cook once again finds himself in a battle with EJ Manuel for the right to backup Derek Carr, and No. 18 made a convincing pitch Wednesday afternoon, effectively operating the second-team offense, moving them up and down the field against the Lions.

“He’s made great strides,” said Gruden of Cook following Wednesday’s session. “Since he’s stepped foot here in Napa, he hasn’t turned the ball over, made good decisions. He audibled two or three times today to big plays. He slung the ball short, medium, and deep accurately, and he’s showing really good command, and this will be a good test for him Friday night. He’ll get a good amount of playing time.”

Speaking of Cook throwing deep, the former Michigan State Spartan showed off that he can indeed throw the deep ball, connecting with Martavis Bryant on a gorgeous deep pass down the sideline.

After making his starting debut against the Houston Texans in the Wild Card round of the 2016 playoffs – becoming the first quarterback in history to make his first start in the postseason – Cook was the third quarterback on the depth chart all last year, not making appearance in the regular season.

But, headed into the opening of the 2018 preseason, Cook is technically listed as the No. 2 quarterback on the depth chart, and it looks like he’s going to be given every opportunity to win that job, beginning Friday night at the OACC.

“Connor’s been awesome,” added Carr. “He’s definitely more vocal now, especially with the groups that he’s going with. Obviously when I go with the ones, we have our way and the intensity and those things, you see when EJ [Manuel] and Connor go, the intensity level doesn’t change. It has to stay the same for the whole team and that’s been awesome. He’s learning a great deal. I think he’s becoming a really good player and I think that the future is really bright for Connor. I really do.”

Injury Report:

Similar to yesterday, no real updates on this front.

However, both Arden Key and Nicholas Morrow were unable to hit the field Wednesday afternoon after going through Tuesday’s session.

Both Seth Roberts and Obi Melifonwu also sat out work for the day.

Notable:

-Just one quick note off the top; there was an added sense of intensity during today’s on-field work. Both teams seemed to have a little more fire in their respective bellies, and while that intensity did boil over into one, small skirmish, for the most part, both squads were on their best behavior.

-Poor DeShawn Shead… Amari Cooper is another guy who really looked outstanding over the past 48 hours, and during one of the one-on-one periods, “Coop” absolutely had his with way the Lions’ defensive back, leaving him in the dust on a pair of well-executed routes.

-Stand up Pharaoh Brown. No. 81 was a factor offensively Wednesday, finding the end zone not once, but twice against the Lions.

-We mentioned Derek Carrier briefly at the top, but the versatile tight end showed that he’s a multi-faceted talent, working in both pass protection, as well as getting himself out in space to serve as a receiving threat for Carr and the Raiders’ quarterbacks.

-Squaring off against his former team, linebacker Tahir Whitehead also enjoyed a strong two days on the practice field. The versatile linebacker has been consistent all training camp, and he enjoyed quite the moment Wednesday as he jumped in front of a pass intended for tight end Luke Willson, batting it to the ground.

-Shout-out to Antonio Hamilton for his back-to-back passes defensed Wednesday afternoon against the Lions; let’s see if he can keep that positive momentum rocking Friday night against the Lions.

Quotable:

“Martavis is not a good talent, he’s a great talent and we’re going to continue to work him into our offense. Today showed I think what he’s capable of doing.” -Head Coach Jon Gruden discussing wide receiver Martavis Bryant.

The Lighter Side:

Today I was immensely entertained to see Marshawn Lynch going through practice wearing socks with the likeness of his own face adorned on the side.

Never change, Beast Mode, never change.

Up Next:

The Silver and Black will hold a morning walk thru tomorrow morning, before opening up the preseason Friday night against the Detroit Lions.

That’s right; football is nearly upon us.

Let’s get it.

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