Even if there were some mental hurdles the quarterback had to clear.
“The hardest part was taking the first rep, because the last rep you remember was like, ‘Oh snap, I broke this thing,'” Carr said after Tuesday’s mandatory minicamp practice. “But as soon as the ball was snapped, it was a blessing. It kind of all went away.
“Now, I’m just playing ball again, but leading up to it, I think that was the worst part … the lead-up, all the rehab. It was like, ‘Man, when am I ever going to be able to do this again.’ It felt like it was never going to happen.”
Instead, Carr has been a full participant in all of the Raiders’ offseason activities, from the conditioning program to OTAs to minicamp.
This after promising that if the Raiders had gone on a magical playoff run with Connor Cook under center, Carr, who suffered the injury on Christmas Eve, would have played in the Super Bowl.
The biggest concern, if you want to call it that, on Carr’s plate is if/when he will receive a monster contract extension this offseason. Carr was not asked about it Tuesday, but did say at the start of OTAs he would not entertain talks if an agreement was not reached by the start of training camp in late July.
Rather, Carr is more publicly worried about picking up where he left off last year with the likes of Amari Cooper, and the two hooked up numerous times Tuesday.
The first time, Cooper blew by cornerback Sean Smith down the left sideline for a long catch and run.
Later, Carr high-pointed a ball in the end zone, and Cooper timed his leap perfectly to come down with the ball and a touchdown in double coverage.
“That … dog in him is coming out, that thing that you saw at Alabama where he’ll just take things over, and not to say that he hasn’t because he has, but I just think that it’s not just becoming a thing of what game it’s going to be, it’s becoming a thing where that’s who he is,” Carr said of Cooper. “DBs better know that he’s really taking it serious that he’s trying to go attack them this year. He’s not going to let them come to him anymore.
“The guy has been going off all camp, all offseason. We were kind of just laughing at how impressed we were.”
You could say the same of Carr in coming back from his injury and reclaiming the locker room. But coach Jack Del Rio wants more as, many observers would argue, he should.
“Continue to hone your craft, sharpen your skills, build that rapport with your teammates, with him getting on the same page with all the receivers and the tight ends and the backs, the timing of the routes and a real deep understanding of what we’re trying to get done,” Del Rio said. “We’ve talked a lot about Derek being able to take ownership at the line and direct things and you have to work to do that. You have to put in the time, really understand the offense inside and out and that’s what Derek brings for us.”
In fact, Del Rio said he wants to give Carr more freedom to change things up at the line of scrimmage under new offensive coordinator Todd Downing, who had previously been Carr’s position coach. Bill Musgrave was the offensive coordinator the previous two seasons.
“Every year except my rookie year, it wasn’t that way,” Carr said. “It was, ‘Hey, let’s do it this way. We’ll have it built in kind of a deal and just let it roll, let’s play fast kind of a thing.’
“My rookie year and this upcoming year, they’re more, ‘Hey, at the line of scrimmage, get us in the good look, get us in the right play, but do it fast kind of a deal.’ I think that that’s what [Del Rio is] hitting on, just making sure that I can take not doing it for a little while.”