For the second consecutive year, an injury is keeping Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr off the field, but don’t expect that development to create an opportunity for Colin Kaepernick.
Although the Raiders initially gave a rosy description of the injury Carr suffered Sunday as “back spasms,” the news Monday evening was worse than they’d hoped. Carr, who missed the playoffs last year after breaking his leg and played through a broken pinkie in November, could miss up to six weeks with a fracture of the transverse process, a bony projection at each side of vertebrae. Typically, recovery takes two to six weeks.
“I just got off the phone with him, and he said he’s sorry,” Coach Jack Del Rio said Monday evening. “He’s a great kid. He’ll bounce back. I told him that the team will take care of business when he’s healing. When he can come back, he’ll come back.”
Carr was hurt late in the third quarter of the Raiders’ 16-10 loss Sunday in Denver when the knee of defensive end Adam Gotsis clipped him as he fell to the ground. Tony Romo, who was doing color commentary for CBS, knew immediately what had happened because he suffered the same injury to two transverse processes in 2014. “See how he’s kind of walking with that back a little back like his shoulders are back?” Romo said on the broadcast. “He’s trying to protect it from gravity. He’s uncomfortable. You can see it.”
Romo also suffered a back injury in 2013 and again in 2016 and those ended up forcing him to the sideline, with Dak Prescott taking over as Cowboys quarterback, and then to the booth this fall. Cam Newton suffered a similar injury in a 2014 car accident and both he and Romo missed only one game that year. That would seem to bode well for Carr.
“At first initially, oh my gosh, what the heck, try to let as much of the pain wear off as you can,” Carr said Sunday of his immediate reaction after the play. “I tried to come in there and let them work on it. I tried to throw. It just wasn’t ready yet.”
The Raiders have a stretch of three home games coming up and their bye is Nov. 12, which would be the sixth week following the injury. In Carr’s absence, EJ Manuel will be tasked with reviving a Raiders offense that has scored only 10 points in the last two games. Which raises the question of whether the team might need help at the position.
While Kaepernick remains a free agent after parting with the San Francisco 49ers in March, Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle rates the chances of him joining the Raiders (or even rejoining the 0-4 49ers under Kyle Shanahan) as “very, very slim.” Still, he points out that there are football reasons to consider Kaepernick, aside from the fact that he ignited national anthem protests:
Forget about politics for a moment. Wouldn’t it break up the monotony to have a quarterback coming off the bench, either to replace an injured QB or to relieve an ineffective one, who could make a play? A fella who could scramble out of the pocket a time or two and turn a busted play into a 20-yard gain? Or run the occasional option?