Carr faces another tough test in rookie season
ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) Derek Carr's rookie season has been like an advanced placement class for quarterbacks.
Carr has faced the most fearsome pass rushers, toughest cover cornerbacks and most accomplished defensive schemers throughout the season with the Oakland Raiders.
He has faced pressure from J.J. Watt, Von Miller, Justin Houston and Aldon Smith; attempted passes against Darrelle Revis, Richard Sherman and Joe Haden; and matched wits against coaches such as Bill Belichick, Rex Ryan and Vic Fangio.
The task doesn't get any easier this week when the Raiders (2-12) host the Buffalo Bills (8-6), who shut down Green Bay's potent offense last week and did not allow a touchdown pass in consecutive games against Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers.
''We've played every good defense this year, all the top ones, all the top pass rushers, which is great,'' Carr said Wednesday. ''For a first year, that's what you want to see. You want to see all that as soon as you can early in your career.''
Carr will have his hands full Sunday. The Bills lead the NFL with 49 sacks and are the only team with three players with at least nine sacks apiece in Mario Williams, Marcell Dareus and Jerry Hughes.
Buffalo has allowed just 50 points in winning three of the past four games and held Manning and Rodgers in check. The two star quarterbacks combined to complete 31 of 62 passes for 358 yards, no touchdowns and four interceptions the past two weeks.
''I'm not concerned with what other people did, just concerned more importantly about how we're going to approach it,'' Raiders interim coach Tony Sparano said. ''Derek is a young quarterback, and I get it. ... But he's played against a bunch of good defenses right now in a row. He's had some success against some of those defenses.''
While Carr only has two wins his rookie season, he has shown signs of being a long-term NFL quarterback. He led a late game-winning touchdown drive to beat Kansas City at home last month and then threw three touchdown passes earlier this month to beat rival San Francisco.
Following each of those home wins came a rough performance on the road as Oakland was outscored 83-13 in losses at St. Louis and Kansas City. Carr struggled in both those games as the line failed to protect him and he completed only 53.7 percent of his passes and averaged just 4.2 yards per attempt.
''You learn a lot about yourself,'' Carr said. ''I learned about myself that I can continue to stand in there, take the hits, make the throws I need to make, make the reads I need to make. That's going to pay off so much.''
Carr hurt his thumb and ankle in the loss to the Chiefs. He was limited in practice but was able to throw the ball and is expected to start Sunday.
While Carr is hoping this experience as a rookie will help him down the road, he knows the future is uncertain in Oakland. The Raiders fired coach Dennis Allen earlier in the season and Sparano is unlikely to keep the job for next season.
General manager Reggie McKenzie also could be in trouble following a third straight season of at least 12 losses.
''The fact that I don't know what's going to happen, that's hard, but right now I'm focused on playing my heart out for (Sparano),'' Carr said. ''Because I love him, I love him to death, love playing for him. He pushes the heck out of me and I love it. That's how I love to be coached. ... Not knowing is hard, but I'm grateful that I do get to play for him now.''
NOTES: RT Menelik Watson (foot, ankle), CB Tarell Brown (foot), CB Chimdi Ckekwa (hamstring), DL C.J. Wilson (knee), WR Denarius Moore (knee, ankle), WR Vincent Brown (groin) and TE Brian Leonhardt (concussion) all missed practice. ... The Raiders signed DB Vernon Kearney and WR Greg Jenkins to the practice squad.
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