ALAMEDA, Calif. — Remember when Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was seen as a gunslinger in the mold of ultimate maverick Brett Favre?

Carr, whose No. 4 jersey was inspired by Favre, never saw an eye of a needle he didn’t want to thread. Never believed there was a throw he could not make. Never shied away from, well, gunning the ball into double or triple coverage.

That was before the fractured pinkie on his passing hand. Before the fractured right fibula. Before the three broken bones in his back. Injuries all suffered within a 10-plus-month period from Nov. 27, 2016, to Oct. 1, 2017.

Human nature being what it is, and given what can be perceived as conservative play, would you blame Carr if the injuries are weighing on his mind a tad?

“Honestly, I don’t think about it until I’m laying on the ground and making sure everything is all right,” Carr said Wednesday. “You know what I mean? Because I’ve been there one too many times. You don’t think about it in the game because, honestly, you’re flooded with decisions, coverages, fronts and pressures. What are they rolling at? Who is the matchup?

“All those things. I can promise you during games I don’t think about it until I’m on the ground making sure, ‘OK I’m good,’ and now I can pop back up.”

In front of a national television audience Monday night, Carr faced a fearsome Los Angeles Rams pass rush — including a low hit by Aaron Donald in the first quarter and tweaking his left ankle after being taken down by Matt Longacre with three minutes to play — and seemed to fade in the second half of the Raiders’ 33-13 defeat.

He looked unsure. He did not step up in the pocket. He threw the ball away at the first sign of trouble. He seemed to be checking down with alarming regularity. He did not, or would not, throw downfield.

Of course, you have to have time to let those deep routes develop.

Amari Cooper, pronounced by coach Jon Gruden to be the centerpiece of Oakland’s passing attack, caught one pass, on three targets, for 9 yards.

Carr completed only five passes on seven targets to his wideouts for 43 yards, including zero completions and an interception in the second half, per ESPN Stats & Information.

And after starting out completing 20 of 24 passes for 199 yards before halftime, he finished with a Total QBR of 10.9.

And a year ago, Carr led the NFL with seven interceptions on throws of at least 20 yards downfield. The end zone pick on an underthrown ball to Jared Cook came from 21 yards out.

And no, Cooper is not frustrated, at least not publicly, that he has had 9 yards or fewer in six of his past 13 games.

“I mean, my whole focal point is to win,” Cooper said. “If I have under 10 yards and we’re winning, I’m fine.”

Alas, the Raiders are 1-5 in those games, with the lone win coming against the Denver Broncos — Sunday’s opponent — last Nov. 26 in Oakland.

Of course, bringing back wide receiver Martavis Bryant should take the top off of defenses and Cooper should benefit, unlike against the Rams, no?

“You look at the film, we had him wide open deep,” Gruden said of Cooper. “We didn’t go there. He was open a couple of times and, for whatever reason, we didn’t go that route. Yeah, we want to get him going. That’s easier said than done now.”

Especially with the Broncos’ No-Fly Zone secondary with Chris Harris and Bradley Roby at cornerback and a swift pass rush on the edge in Von Miller and rookie Bradley Chubb.

And oh, yeah, Carr also returns to Denver, where the Broncos injured his back on a sack last Oct. 1. It cost him a game and, perhaps, some confidence.

“It would be human nature to be there and lay there [after a hit],” Carr said. “I can’t say that I’ve ever gotten hit and laid there and didn’t [wonder], ‘All right, am I good?’ because of those things. You just get up, make sure you are all right and move on.

“Again, there is so much decision-making to go, it’s honestly half a second that all that happens.”


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