The Oakland Raiders held a morning walk thru at their Napa Valley Training Complex on Saturday, and for the first time in several weeks, Derek Carr had his full arsenal of wide receivers at the ready.
After going through pregame warmups – but not playing in the game itself – Thursday night in Arizona, Antonio Brown returned to the field back in Napa, and while the morning session was technically not a practice, his involvement is a good sign for the Raiders offense as a whole.
“He did everything with us just now,” said Carr following the morning session. “The man’s recall is unbelievable. He came in and no mental errors, and in this offense that’s not easy to do, especially whenever you have a day off, even just as a player, you come back and you have to stay on Coach Gruden’s offense all the time, and you can tell Antonio’s been studying because he came out and didn’t miss a beat.”
“He took all the reps today in our walk thru, showed great retention, and we’ll see what happens here this afternoon,” added Head Coach Jon Gruden. “We’re going to have a walk thru today as well. We have a lot guys that can’t practice, so we’ll pick it up tomorrow.”
So, what exactly does that No. 84’s return mean for Derek Carr? Well, not only does DC have one of the best wide receivers in the NFL back at his disposal, but Brown’s presence makes it even more possible for Carr to get a taste of what the regular season will be like for the offense.
“I can get to all my checks, and do all that kind of stuff, like I’ll do during the season,” Carr explained. “And then I have the big Tyrell [Williams], [Darren] Waller, and our running backs, and Antonio, they’re all one-on-one. What do you do? Who do you go to? That’s the mental game that we’re going to have to play, me and Coach Gruden, and talking about that beforehand, but it’s nice to have him and I can play it like a real game, and where I’d go, and what I’d do.”
As Carr mentioned, Brown’s return to the field really completes a Raiders offense that is certainly not lacking depth and playmakers, and according to No. 4 that stockpile of riches is by design.
“We can be very diverse,” Carr said. “We can play ‘22’ football, with two backs and two tight ends, or we can go out there with a whole bunch of receivers and Waller and play that kind of way. We can run the triple option if we want to. We got all the pieces to do whatever Coach can think of, and trust me, he thinks of everything.
Carr continued, “He’s going to want weapons at every position and he wants to be deep on offense. I think the cool thing we saw in the preseason game is we only played one series, but the points kept going up when those other guys went in. You see a guy like Rico [Gafford]. You see [Keelan] Doss, Hunter [Renfrow], Keon [Hatcher], all these guys making these plays. That’s just how he likes it. He wants depth everywhere so the defense has a lot to prepare for.”
Brown aside, the Raiders wide receiving corps – which was completely retooled over the past several months – is a talented one, and as nice as it is to have all those quality playmakers out wide, it will lead to some tough decisions over the next few weeks.
“I said this, I may have said it after the game, it’s like when we go to cut day we are going to be cutting good football players and that shows you how deep our team is,” Carr explained. “So, I’m glad I don’t have to make those decisions, but those guys we cut, I’m not worried about them. They are going to get picked up and be off to the races, but I just don’t know who it’s going to be right now. I don’t know what way they want to go, the coaches and Mr. Mayock and things like that, but just sitting there looking at it they can all play, so whoever we keep I know they are going to be ready to go.”
But compared to where the Silver and Black sat at this time a year ago, that’s a good problem to have headed into the third week of the preseason.
Check out the top photos from the Raiders' 33-26 preseason victory over the Cardinals at State Farm Stadium.