Raiders Backup QB Battle: Cook Separating from Manuel

Raiders backup Connor Cook
May 23, 2017; Alameda, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Connor Cook (18) throws a pass during organized team activities at the Raiders practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Derek Carr writhing in pain after with a broken leg is a sight the Oakland Raiders never want to see again. That morbid play against the Indianapolis Colts effectively ended the team’s marvelous season as the franchise just couldn’t recover losing its franchise quarterback.


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Carr and the rest of the team are hell bent on attaining the glory that eluded them. But there is one troubling fact: If Carr goes down, the ship sinks with him.

For as much as they’ll detest the notion, deny it’s a possibility and hope it never happens again, head coach Jack Del Rio and his coaches need to have a worst-case scenario in their back pocket. That is a strong commitment to the growth of Connor Cook. It’s imperative Oakland give Cook as many reps and as many teaching moments the second-year quarterback can consume.

“Connor has done a good job,” Del Rio said during a presser after Tuesday’s mandatory camp day. “He’s a lot more comfortable in Year 2. Obviously, last year being a rookie, a lot of things kind of slow in Year 2. I think the entire rookie class would tell you that. Connor has had a good offseason for us. He’s doing a nice job.”

Cook has done relatively well in early camp sessions showing poise, command and confidence that were, not surprisingly, absent in his rookie year. Surely, he won’t have the same level of rhythm Carr has with the offense. No. 4 drives it, without question. But the Raiders need to invest quality time in No. 18. Carr takes 99 percent of the snaps in practices during the regular season. Under the consequences, that’s excellent for the starter’s synergy with the offense, but terrible for the backup.

Cook is a ready and willing understudy and the Raiders must nourish that.

“He’s such a pro and a guy that wants to do things right that the more he’s around meetings, out at practice and understands what we’re looking for in the system, he’ll just continue to grow and grow,” offensive coordinator Todd Downing said of Cook. “He’s one of those guys that he wants you to paint a picture of him of how you want it done and then he’s going to do his best to replicate that picture. We’re excited about where he’s at this offseason and expect a lot of fun things in the future.”

What about EJ Manuel?

If Manuel stands under center in close games, the Raiders’ season has gone terribly awry. No matter how much praise and hope Downing heaps upon him.


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