Raiders’ Comfy Derek Carr enjoying the preseason
Make that, fun for an established starting quarterback like the Raiders’ Derek Carr, who has no one breathing down his neck trying to take his job.
“Sometimes I joke (that) people are going to be mad at me for certain things in the preseason, you know?” Carr said before practice Tuesday.
In about three quarters of work, Carr is 13-of-20 for 172 yards with an interception and hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass in the first two preseason games.
The goals are simple as the Raiders host the Titans in the third preseason game Saturday.
“A little unorthodox or unusual that you have a team that you’re playing in the third preseason game that you’re going to turn around and play them early in the season like that,” Del Rio said.
After saying No. 3 receiver Seth Roberts “has been OK,” Del Rio seemed to rave a little about undrafted rookie Johnny Holton.
Holton, who had quit high school, was discovered playing flag football in a park in Miami and was signed by a junior college five years ago.
Carr called the speedster the most improved player this whole offseason.
Toomer, James add much-needed depth at linebacker for Raiders
A lot has been made of the Raiders’ big-money free-agent acquisitions, but another area where the team has improved dramatically is depth:
Even at linebacker, considered the team’s soft spot on defense.
After the first team gave up 45 yards to Packers running back Eddie Lacy on the first touchdown drive Thursday, Oakland allowed only 2.9 yards per carry the rest of the night.
“After we got done with the first series, we settled down and played some really good football,” linebackers coach Sal Sunseri said.
Backup inside linebackers Korey Toomer, Cory James and Neiron Ball have followed strong training camps with good performances in the first two preseason games.
While Toomer is in his fifth year out of Idaho, James is a rookie, a sixth-round pick from Colorado State.
The 6-foot-2, 235-pound Toomer has had a label as a special teams player, one he doesn’t mind, since he came into the league.
A big part of that is the emergence of the 6-1, 229-pound James, who has found a home at inside linebacker after playing defensive end, outside linebacker and inside linebacker in college.
Ball has been coming on slowly after two knee surgeries in the past year, but showed last year in his rookie season that he is adept at covering tight ends.
Sports, to U.S. Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman to congratulate her on winning a gold and two silver medals at the Rio Olympics.
Raisman, 22, agreed to go on a double date with the “very cute” Underwood and Raiders long snapper Andrew East, who is married to 2008 gold medalist and Raisman’s friend, Shawn Johnson.
In the second quarter of Thursday’s preseason loss, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr offered another glimpse of a possible extra wrinkle to the offense.
[...] if we can do it a couple times a game to keep people honest for that back side, then I’m all for it.
The coaching staff seems content to have Carr sit back behind the big offensive line and hurt opponents with his arm, not his feet.
“As a whole, as a quarterbacks coach, I like his passing skill set,” he added with a smile.
Not only did a slimmed-down Dan Williams — he walked around with his shirt off after practice Saturday — get back in with the first-team defensive line Thursday night, but undrafted rookie Darius Latham also looked good when he got some run with the starters.
Every year at training camp, it seems, there is an easy ticket to punch for a roster spot: kick returner.
No one is taking advantage of the opportunity either, as the coaches are looking to see if any of the new players can take over for TJ Carrie on punts or Taiwan Jones on kickoffs.
Undrafted cornerback Antonio Hamilton let the ball bounce on his second-quarter punt return, eliminating the chance at a return and bringing on a lot of shake-it-off pats on the back from teammates on the sideline.
A reporter picked a bad time to ask Latavius Murray about the Raiders being a popular sleeper pick in the NFL this season.
“Well, if we play the way we did tonight, we won’t have to worry about the playoffs or anything like that,” the running back told reporters.
The Raiders’ offensive line, after two years of big offseason signings, is supposed to be one of the best in the league.
Not even when coach Jack Del Rio left the linemen — and the rest of the starters — in the game to go against Packers backups for the remainder of the first half.
The backup offensive linemen were worse:
According to Pro Football Focus, Murray and Washington combined for 15 yards after contact on their 11 carries.
Del Rio also wasn’t showing any anger or frustration, despite his team coming out flat, getting the ball run down its throat on Green Bay’s first drive and committing double-digit penalties for the second straight game.
Maybe not, because the Raiders’ passing game was almost as bad as the running game.
“That third preseason game is supposed to be the biggest rehearsal you get for the regular season,” Amerson told reporters.
Oakland, a team seemingly on the rise, wants to play its young stars, provide them ample time to get in sync, and build momentum for the new season.
Green Bay, a team that’s reached the postseason seven straight years, simply wants to keep its stars healthy for the 17-week marathon that lies ahead.
The Packers (2-0) chose to sit quarterback Aaron Rodgers, wideout Jordy Nelson, and linebackers Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers — four players that have combined for 21 Pro Bowls.
Green Bay’s starters played just one series and No. 2 quarterback Brett Hundley left with an ankle injury early in the second quarter.
The Raiders’ No. 1 offense managed just four first downs and 73 total yards in five first-half possessions.
Third-year quarterback Derek Carr averaged a paltry 2.9 yards per passing attempt, threw for just 38 yards and had a quarterback rating of 40.2.
“I wish I had the reason,” Carr said when asked about the Raiders’ offensive struggles.
Del Rio and defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. had to cringe as the Packers marched 74 yards and ate up 7:36 on their opening drive.
Oakland’s only points of the first half came when Sebastian Janikowski drilled a 46-yard field goal on the Raiders’ first possession.
[...] Hundley was knocked from the game with an ankle early in the second quarter when Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack beat left tackle Jason Spriggs and hit the quarterback low.
Cook completed 6-of-9 passes for 101 yards, led a field goal drive, but was also intercepted.
Through two preseason games, though, the Raiders’ starters have had some trouble stopping the run.
“I thought, offensively, running the football, getting out on the edge of the defense was a job well done,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said of his offense.
In Green Bay’s 30-20 defeat of the Raiders last season, Packers cornerback Damarious Randall and Oakland receiver Amari Cooper — both rookies then — played major roles in the outcome.
Cooper had six catches for 120 yards and two touchdowns, and Randall had a 43-yard interception return for a touchdown.
On the Raiders’ first possession, Cooper beat Randall for 20 yards on 3rd-and-10 to set up a field goal.
Midway through the second quarter, Randall was alone in coverage against Cooper when Oakland quarterback Derek Carr overthrew his receiver and Randall made a terrific adjustment and intercepted the ball.
Carr’s 16-yard run late in the second quarter was wiped out when center Rodney Hudson was called for holding Packers rookie defensive tackle Kenny Clark.
Raiders RB Washington gets chance and is running with it
Rookie running back DeAndre Washington not only survived the speed of his first NFL preseason game but is also ready to kick it into overdrive when the Raiders face the Packers in Green Bay on Thursday night.
Washington had 43 yards on eight carries and a 32-yard catch against the Cardinals on Friday, and has grabbed hold of the No. 2 running back job heading into the second preseason game.
The fifth-round pick out of Texas Tech said he “was licking my chops” on that catch and run over the middle when he saw a defensive end was going to try to cover him.
Washington had some competition for the backup job behind Latavius Murray, but undrafted rookie Jalen Richard injured his knee and missed Friday’s game.
The Raiders didn’t really have a third-down option besides Murray last season, and coach Jack Del Rio is happy with what he’s seen at training camp.
“We’ve been seeing signs during camp of improving the running game,” he said.
Training camp in Napa ended Tuesday, and the coaches and players are happy with the work put in.
Quarterback Derek Carr even enjoyed throwing interceptions against a much-improved defense.
Even when the defense would make a play on me, it sucks and I was mad and all that, but at the end of the day, I was like, ‘It’s nice to see that.’
Because they’re that good.
Inside linebacker Cory James, a sixth-round pick out of Colorado State has matured quickly and flashed his ability.
[...] safety Dewey McDonald’s struggles in the opener have given 2014 fourth-round pick Keith McGill new life at safety.
Hip strain could sideline Raiders’ Edwards for month
Defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. could be out a month with a hip strain — and that’s the good news on the injury front for the Raiders.
Reserve tight end Gabe Holmes is likely headed for the season-ending injured reserve list after breaking a small bone in his foot and suffering what head coach Jack Del Rio called a “pretty significant high ankle sprain.”
Both players were injured in Friday’s preseason opener in Arizona.
Denico Autry, a third-year player returning from a wrist injury, will take Edwards’ place in the starting lineup.
Inside linebacker Ben Henney said in a tweet after practice that he’s OK.
Cornerback D.J. Hayden continued a strong camp with an interception off Matt McGloin that would have been a touchdown in a game.
Vic Tafur is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.
George Atkinson III found the expressway Friday night, and if he keeps doing that, it’s going to be hard for the Raiders to keep the running back off the 53-man roster.
With the Cardinals’ defense leaning one way in the preseason opener, Atkinson bounced a running play outside, making a defender miss.
When receiver Joe Hansley took out another defender with a block, Atkinson had reached the right sideline, the expressway.
The 53-yard touchdown run in the third quarter was only the start for the running back, who has spent the past two years on Oakland’s practice squad.
Atkinson added a 35-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter of the Raiders’ 31-10 win and finished with five carries for 97 yards.
Atkinson came into Friday’s game fifth on the depth chart, but got a break when rookie Jalen Richard couldn’t play because of a sore knee.
Running backs coach Bernie Parmalee “really emphasized in the offseason reading the defense and knowing the blocks before they happen,” Atkinson said.
Rookie quarterback Connor Cook did a nice job with short passes in his debut, and finished 7-for-11 for 71 yards.
Linebacker Korey Toomer followed a good camp with a game-high seven tackles and a forced fumble on special teams.
Undrafted outside linebacker James Cowser and sixth-round pick Cory James had five tackles each. …
Backups shine in Raiders’ preseason opener; Edwards hurt
The worst thing imaginable reared its ugly head Friday night in the Raiders’ preseason opener at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Edwards, who had just come back from a scary neck injury last season, left the locker room after the game on crutches.
The Raiders’ defense — and their first-team offense — didn’t look so great, but Oakland was bailed out, as it is in most preseason games, by backup quarterback Matt McGloin.
McGloin threw two touchdown passes in relief of starter Derek Carr, who completed 3 of 7 passes for 44 yards in two series.
Fourth-string running back George Atkinson put the game away with 53-yard and 35-yard touchdown runs.
The former practice-squad player made the most of his opportunity as rookie Jalen Richard missed the game with a knee injury.
[...] that was more than the first-round pick expected to, as the coaches and training staff have been bringing him along slowly in his return from knee surgery last year.
Rookie outside linebacker Shilique Calhoun had a mixed night.
Williams, who started 15 games last season, was out of shape in offseason workouts and has been behind Justin Ellis and Jihad Ward the first two weeks of training camp.
Backup quarterback threw his 11th and 12th career preseason TD passes, erasing all the interceptions he threw in training camp the past two weeks.
The fifth-round pick is trying to carve out a third-down role, and he showed his moves and burst with a 25-yard run and 32-yard catch.
An afterthought in the backfield, the RB showed off his elite speed when he bounced a run outside and flew down the right sideline for a 53-yard touchdown.