Categories: Breaking News NFL

Raiders coach optimistic about return of Michael Crabtree; EJ Manuel hopes to get Amari Cooper ‘rolling’

ALAMEDA — Jack Del Rio offered a brief-yet-illuminating reply when asked whether he’s optimistic about seeing Michael Crabtree back on the field on Sunday when the Baltimore Ravens arrive at the Coliseum.

“Yes,” the head coach said during his Wednesday press conference in Alameda.

Crabtree missed the club’s Week 4, 16-10, loss to the Denver Broncos after sustaining a chest injury a week prior in the Oakland Raiders’ Sunday night setback to Washington. The veteran receiver was on the field for practice on Wednesday afternoon at the Raiders training facility.

‘We definitely want to get him rolling’

In EJ Manuel’s first start in the place of Derek Carr, one of the QB’s chief priorities will be to get Amari Cooper back to his old form.

The third-year receiver has amassed just 15 yards on three catches over the past two weeks.

“I think we can do a great job of allowing Coop to be who he is,” Manuel said. “There’s no pressure on him because we know he’s a great player.”

Manuel plans to target Cooper early on against the Ravens to help lift the former Alabama star out of his rut.

“We definitely want to get him rolling, get his confidence rolling and everything like that and get him some touches early so he can make some plays,” Manuel said.

Cooper, who praised Manuel for his preparation and attention to detail, is on board with that plan, but won’t be demanding the ball.

“No, I don’t ask for it,” Cooper explained. “I just try to stay within the offense.”

‘EJ throws the ball a little bit harder’

Asked about the difference between catching passes from Carr and Manuel, Cooper offered a forthright — if unexpected — reply.

“All quarterbacks throw a little bit differently. I think EJ throws the ball a little bit harder,” Cooper said with a smile. “So, I’ll have to adjust to that.”

‘That’s a terrible mindset’

Even after consecutive subpar showings in back-to-back losses, the Raiders’ much-hyped offensive line isn’t leaking confidence.

Pro Bowl center Rodney Hudson scoffed at the notion that the group would either lose or gain poise based on recent performance

“I don’t know about losing it,” Hudson said.

“You don’t step on an NFL field thinking you can’t do something,” Hudson added. “That’s a terrible mindset, so every time we go out there we believe in ourselves and we’re going to keep believing in ourselves. But we just need to do little things better.”

kbuscheck@sfexaminer.com

Karl Buscheck

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