Raiders quarterback Derek Carr will likely play the Chargers after all, just two weeks after fracturing his spine.
“I anticipate he’ll be ready to go,” Coach Jack Del Rio told reporters Monday. “He was pushing pretty hard last week.”
The recovery is not as dramatic as it might sound. In a loss to the Broncos on Oct. 1, Carr fractured a transverse process, a small bone projecting off the vertebrae. The injury causes spasms and pain, but other quarterbacks have returned soon after similar cases: Tony Romo missed one game in 2014, and finished the season with a career-high 113.2 passer rating; later that same season, Cam Newton missed one game after a car accident.
A return by Carr this Sunday would be on the early side of his original 2-6 week timetable, but it would not be miraculous by any means.
The timing could be bad news for the Chargers (1-4), against whom Carr has a career passer rating of 91.8. He isn’t nearly as successful against any other division opponent, sitting at 75.9 against Denver and 68.1 against Kansas City.
If the two-time Pro Bowler does sit out a second straight game at Oakland Coliseum, the Raiders (2-3) will turn again to E.J. Manuel, who hasn’t won a game as a starter since September 2014.
WHO’S COACHING THE RAIDERS?
Del Rio got the Raiders to the playoffs for the first time in 14 years. Now, he just needs to win another postseason game.
Oakland hired the Bay Area native in 2015, a move that paid almost-immediate dividends. In his first season, the Raiders won seven games, more than double their previous total. Last season, he nearly doubled it again.
But Carr broke his fibula during the Raiders’ 12th regular-season win, making them an easy out for the Texans in the wild-card matchup.
Can Del Rio build on that success? In his first head coaching stint, he needed just three seasons to take the Jaguars to the playoffs. He stayed in Jacksonville for nearly six more years, but only got back to the postseason once more,…