October 21, 2020 - 10:38 am
Updated October 21, 2020 - 3:06 pm
Derek Carr has seen his share of weirdness as the quarterback of the Raiders over the past seven seasons.
But he wasn’t prepared for what happened Wednesday when he showed up to get ready for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — only to find his entire starting offensive line had been sent home because of COVID-19 protocols.
“It ranks No. 1 on the weirdest things,” Carr said.
The strange turn of events was the result of right tackle Trent Brown getting a positive result for the virus based on his Tuesday test and then being put on the COVID-19 reserve list.
The chain reaction to that included left tackle Kolton Miller, right guard Gabe Jackson, left guard Denzelle Good and center Rodney Hudson all being sent home from the Raiders’ practice facility to begin the process of contact tracing.
Per league policy, if any of his linemates are deemed high-risk contacts, they will spend the next four days in COVID-19 protocol. Should they clear all testing hurdles, they will be eligible to return on Saturday and able to play on Sunday.
For those who aren’t deemed high-risk contacts, they can return to work on Thursday provided they test negative and show no symptoms. The current process is based on the players’ last contact with Brown on Monday. The Raiders had an off day on Tuesday.
Safety Johnathan Abram was also sent home.
Their status for Sunday is up in the air.
“Hopefully we’ll get some players back tomorrow or for Sunday,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden said.
It was a bit of a shock even for Gruden.
“We don’t have Trent today; we don’t have any of our linemen,” Gruden said. “So how happy am I? I’m not happy.”
It underscored the importance throughout the Raiders’ building of following protocols and measures.
“As Jon and I have said, this is our No. 1 enemy and we have to beat this virus,” Raiders owner Mark Davis said. “The league is doing its best to make things run as smoothly as possible while being careful with everyone’s health.
“The idea of keeping (the offensive line home) and everyone else safe is the prudent move.”
Carr said once he got past the initial shock and concern for the well-being of his teammates, his focus moved to football.
That meant focusing on his current offensive line. Wednesday, it was backups Brandon Parker, Sam Young, John Simpson, Andre James, Patrick Omameh and Erik Magnuson.
“We’ve been taught, really brainwashed since we were kids, someone goes down, it’s next man,” Carr said. “You go to practice and you lose a starter, you lose this guy, you lose that guy, and you just play. It’s a weird thing because it doesn’t seem normal to rationally think that way.”
For Gruden, it meant trying to make do under highly unusual circumstances.
“We adjusted practice, we still got a lot of work done, but you’ve got to have lineman to play.”
Brown joins rookie cornerback Damon Arnette, who was put on the reserve/COVID-19 list Monday. Arnette already was on the injured reserve list with a fractured wrist and was not on target to return against the Buccaneers.
The loss of Brown is significant given the pass-rush prowess of Tampa Bay, which is tied for second in the NFL with 22 sacks and is third in quarterback pressures with 69.
Carr was not inclined to use Wednesday’s setback as an excuse. Nor is he expecting anyone to feel sorry for the Raiders.
“Whoever’s out there, that’s who’s out there,” Carr said. “Nobody cares about this or that; they just see the win-loss, and that’s all that matters in this business.”
Brown has played one full game with the Raiders — their win over the Kansas City Chiefs — while dealing with a calf injury.
Arnette, the 19th overall pick in April’s draft, has missed the last two games after undergoing surgery to repair his wrist, which he hurt in training camp. Arnette reinjured the wrist making a tackle against the New England Patriots in Week 3 and landed on IR.
All in all, it made for a weird day at work.
“You have to compartmentalize a little bit; you have to separate the two,” Carr said. “Once you step on the field, we have to act like this is game day. Like this is the group we’re rolling out with getting ready to play.”
That makes the next few days critical as the Raiders try to sort out who will be available Sunday.
“We’ll have five (linemen) on Sunday,” Gruden said. “We’ll be ready to go.”