Sports: Carr could be back on the field for Raiders on Sun­day.

The Mercury News - - Front Page - Di­eter Kurten­bach Columnist

Raiders quar­ter­back Derek Carr is go­ing to play on Sun­day.

That was not the of­fi­cial word com­ing out of Raiders camp Wed­nes­day — the of­fi­cial word was far more cal­cu­lated and non-com­mit­tal — but the un­of­fi­cial word was re­ceived loud and clear:

Carr, who missed last week’s game af­ter frac­tur­ing a bone in his back in the Raiders’ Week 4 loss to Den­ver, is, well ... back.

And all he has to do upon his re­turn is save the Raiders’ sea­son.

Ac­cord­ing to head coach Jack Del Rio, Carr, and the quar­ter­back’s Raiders team­mates, No. 4 isn’t show­ing any re­stric­tions on the field, de­spite hav­ing frac­tured one of his trans­verse pro­cesses.

Carr isn’t fully healed from the in­jury, but at this point, the only lim­it­ing fac­tor with the in­jury is

pain tol­er­ance.

“It just hurts,” Carr said Wed­nes­day. “There’s not re­ally much more to it. It’s not like a worry. It’s just one of those things you gotta deal with, just like ev­ery­body in the NFL right now.”

Carr said he felt like he could have played against the Ravens last Sun­day, and given what’s on the line for the Raiders over the next week, there’s no chance he’s not go­ing to be on the field.

“I wanted to show my team­mates and coaches that no mat­ter what, I’m go­ing to do any­thing I can for my team,” Carr said. “As soon as I was told ‘it could be up to six weeks’ I said ‘OK, we’ll see.’ Maybe there’s some­thing wrong with me — maybe there’s some­thing wrong in my head that thinks I can come back faster than that — I don’t know.”

No mat­ter what screw loose Carr has, he’s go­ing to be on the field Sun­day. Don’t ex­pect any­one on the Raiders to stand in his way.

Oakland sits at 2-3 on the year, and con­sid­er­ing all that’s gone wrong dur­ing the Raiders’ three­game los­ing streak, they still sit in a rel­a­tively de­cent po­si­tion — one game back of a wild-card spot with 11 games left.

Ev­ery­thing this team wants is still in front of it, be­cause it’s hard to com­pletely tor­pedo your sea­son in the first quar­ter of the cam­paign.

But the Raiders can tor­pedo the sea­son over the course of five days next week, when the Charg­ers and Chiefs come to town.

The Raiders are adamant that they need to get off the schneid — “We rec­og­nize the need (for a win). We need it pretty bad,” Del Rio said — but the Raiders re­fused to rec­og­nize the grav­ity of the sit­u­a­tion in front of them.

You know the cliches. Carr, Del Rio, and the rest of the Raiders are adamant that ev­ery game is im­por­tant, and that they plan to win them all.

But it’s just a bit more se­ri­ous than that: The Raiders must win at least one of their next two games over the next week. No caveats, no ex­cuses. It must to be done.

Fall to 2-5 with three losses in the di­vi­sion and this Raiders sea­son is over. No, the Raiders would not be math­e­mat­i­cally elim­i­nated at 2-5, but ef­fec­tively, this Raiders sea­son, which started with so much prom­ise, would be lost.

Sure, should that 2-5 record come to pass, the Raiders could rat­tle off seven or eight wins in their fi­nal nine games against ar­guably the tough­est sec­ond-half sched­ule in the NFL. Don’t count on that hap­pen­ing.

As such, the Raiders sea­son could well be de­fined by th­ese next two games.

And at the helm of the of­fense will be a quar­ter­back with a bro­ken bone is his back and a bunch of pain, need­ing to beat ei­ther (or both) a squad with ar­guably the best pass­rush duo in the NFL and a team that he hasn’t beaten since Novem­ber 2014, his rookie sea­son.

What could go wrong? The Raiders need a bounce-back win Sun­day, but Carr needs one too. His past two games have been woe­ful, a man­i­fes­ta­tion of all of his worst ten­den­cies and con­cerns. In the Raiders’ losses to Wash­ing­ton and Den­ver, Carr looked noth­ing like the high­est­paid player in the AFC, go­ing 29 for 49, throw­ing two touch­downs and two in­ter­cep­tions and av­er­ag­ing an atro­cious 4.31 ad­justed yards per pass at­tempt.

Carr was so bad head­ing into his five-quar­ter ab­sence that backup quar­ter­back EJ Manuel looked rel­a­tively impressive — he had a quar­ter­back rat­ing of 72.3 and only av­er­aged 5.58 ad­justed yards per at­tempt.

How much will the back pain in­hibit Carr? Only he knows.

How could that af­fect the sput­ter­ing Oakland of­fense? We’ll find out Sun­day.

And I can’t help but rec­og­nize that there’s some drama here — it’s a knock­off Wil­lis Reed sce­nario; it’s all on the line and a hero rises to save the day.

There’s no doubt Carr in my mind that loves that as­pect of this, too.

We all know the quar­ter­back has a flair for the dra­matic.

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