By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer
AP file photo: Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr slings it back to air it out against the Green Bay Packers in week two of the exhibition season at Lambeau Field Thu Aug 18th in Green Bay
OAKLAND, Calif — Derek Carr looked rather pedestrian, completing 9 of 13 for just 38 yards, during Oakland’s 20-12 loss to Green Bay last Thursday night.
Carr and the Raiders’ first-team offense have produced zero touchdowns during the team’s first two preseason games.
In fact, Oakland’s first-team offense have produced just six points in the three quarters that Carr has played so far this preseason. If you’re Raider Nation, you’re not too concerned, but you do want to see Carr engineer the Raiders into the end zone before the end of the preseason.
What’s troubling for me with Oakland’s offense is not the lack of touchdowns, but the chemistry issues in the passing game, particularly with training camp roommates in Carr and Cooper on deep routes.
In Oakland’s first preseason game against the Cardinals in Arizona, Carr and Cooper were disconnected on a deep throw down the Cardinals’ sideline that Cooper caught, but couldn’t keep his feet in bounds.
Then against the Packers, Carr threw an underthrown pass to Cooper that was intercepted by Packers cornerback Damarious Randall in the first quarter.
“I tried to throw it up and give Amari a chance,” Carr said after the game. “This is the time to do it. I am risky, but at this time, a bit more risky.”
I do expect Carr to play comfortable in front of the Raider Nation Saturday, when Oakland (1-1) host Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans in both team’s third preseason game, where generally the starters play the majority of the game.
Kickoff is set for 5:00 p.m. PDT at the Oakland Coliseum, with the game seen nationally on CBS.
Carr led four fourth quarter/overtime game-winning drives, one including a 24-21 victory over the Titans in Week 12 last season after trailing 17-21 late in the fourth quarter.
Carr orchestrated a 9-play, 90-yard drive in 3:20 that ended with a 12-yard touchdown to wide receiver Seth Roberts with 1:21 left in the game.
It was Roberts’s first career 100-yard receiving game (six catches, 113 yards, and two touchdowns), and the second time in 2015 that Carr and Roberts connected on a game-winning score in the final two minutes.
Coincidentally, Carr found Roberts for a 12-yard touchdown in Oakland’s 37-33 home win over Baltimore in Week 2.
Oakland’s first-team defense can improve, especially against the running game. The Raiders were battered by the strong running game of Packers running back Eddie Lacy, who carried the ball nine times for 45 yards.
Lacy closed out a 14-play, 74-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown plunge in the first quarter. Lacy had a 20-yard run on 2nd and 10 that was key on the Packers’ opening drive, which saw a litany of Raiders missing tackles.
Tennessee (1-1) is coming off a 26-16 loss at home against the NFC Champions, Carolina Panthers, has the promise of being one of the surprising teams this year, especially with Mariota at the helm.
The second-year quarterback completed 9 of 10 passes for 104 yards passing with one interception. Mariota did hook up with wide receiver Harry Douglas for a 23-yard touchdown on his final throw after engineering Tennessee’s first three drives.
Tennessee also has the potential of having one of the league’s better rushing attacks with running backs DeMarco Murray and rookie Derrick Henry.
Murray, who was acquired by the Titans in the offseason after spending a disastrous 2015 season in Philadelphia, looked like he is ready for a bounce back season as evident of his 71-yard touchdown run against the Chargers in San Diego in the team’s first preseason game.
The six-year pro out of Oklahoma has 11 carries for 113 yards and a touchdown through two games this preseason.
Henry, the bruiser out of Alabama who Tennessee drafted in the second round this past May, has 15 carries for 105 yards and a touchdown through two games this preseason.
One player that I’m very interested in watching for the Titans is rookie receiver Tajae Sharpe, who Mariota recently told Around the NFL’s Marc Sessler “he makes it easy,” when catching the ball.
The UMass product leads Tennessee with eight catches for 103 yards this preseason.