Raiders QB Derek Carr finds rhythm with Cooper, Crabtree

Updated August 15, 2017 - 9:41 pm

NAPA, Calif. — The 15-second internet video that went viral Tuesday features an overworked smoke machine, a blue car and a stone-faced Derek Carr in a light blue denim jacket. Electronic music pops in the background. Finally, a white screen teases in black letters: “DEBUT SINGLE 2017.”

This video was posted at noon on Carr’s official Twitter account.

A message accompanied it: “Can’t wait for you to see what’s next” with a website link to

But Carr does not have a music single forthcoming. And he did not send this message himself. He was too busy on the practice field, finding a rhythm with his top wide receivers that largely has been missing from training camp.

The Raiders raised their offense an octave or two Tuesday. Wide receiver Amari Cooper practiced for the first time since Aug. 3, this after missing six straight practices and seven of the past eight. Carr and Cooper did not skip a beat, and wide receiver Michael Crabtree produced a score to remember.

The real teaser Tuesday wasn’t on Carr’s Twitter account.

It was here on the field, a preview of what the Raiders’ passing game could be in 2017.

Cooper showed no visible signs of injury in his return — aside from a medical compression sleeve he wore over his left leg. The exact nature of his injury is unclear; Raiders coach Jack Del Rio is not required to disclose medical information to reporters at this stage of the year and so doesn’t.

A sideline grab here. A deep touchdown over the middle there.

Cooper looked like Cooper.

For that matter, so did Crabtree. Trust may be the most important aspect of a relationship between a quarterback and receiver. A quarterback must trust his receiver to read a coverage the same way he does. He must trust that he’ll break off his route at the expected time. He must trust that, when the ball is thrown into a tight window, the receiver will find a way to haul in the pass.

It is on this third aspect that Crabtree especially thrives.

He demonstrated as much Tuesday when Carr lobbed a pass on a fade route toward the back-right corner of the end zone. Crabtree somehow caught the ball over his shoulder and tapped his feet inbounds, all while falling to the grass and securing the score. The play was among the Raiders’ finest of the entire camp, which will conclude Thursday.

“He’s got great hands,” Carr said recently when asked why he seems comfortable throwing to the ninth-year veteran. “I think he probably makes it look a little more comfortable than I do the way he catches the ball sometimes. Honestly, we get along like brothers. We’ll argue about something and then 30 seconds later talk about, ‘Just throw me the ball,’ kind of thing. It’s just our relationship is so cool, so fun because we’re the same. Super competitive. We both know how things should get done and how we want them done.

“I think that that’s what brings the best out of us. I know I can rely on him no matter what.”

Carr’s music trailer video was made in jest.

While not available for comment, he explained via a team spokesman that the marketing campaign is linked to a series of television commercials that will broadcast in California’s Central Valley. Carr grew up in the Bakersfield-Fresno area and is partnering with a credit union in that region.

One Tuesday teaser was fake.

The other, the Raiders hope, will prove very real.

Contact reporter Michael Gehlken at Follow @GehlkenNFL on Twitter.

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