ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — When Derek Carr was preparing for the 2014 NFL draft, there was one quarterback-needy team that never came calling.
After drafting Carr’s older brother David with the first overall pick as an expansion team in 2002, the Houston Texans showed no interest in David’s little brother, taking pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney with the No. 1 pick and then guard Xavier Su’a-Filo at the top of the second round — three picks before Derek Carr went to Oakland.
“Well, they never talked to me,” Carr said Thursday. “I never talked one word to a Houston scout, G.M., coach anything. I’m just happy to be here, I can tell you that.”
The Raiders are even happier as Carr has developed into one of the league’s top young quarterbacks in his third season and is a major reason why Oakland (7-2) is in position to end a 13-year playoff drought.
Carr has completed 66.1 percent of his passes for 2,505 yards with 17 touchdowns and a passer rating of 99.1 heading into Monday night’s meeting with the Texans (6-3) in Mexico City.
“He’s having a heck of a year,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said. “He’s only thrown three interceptions, I think he’s completing almost 70 percent of his balls, doing a good job throwing the ball down the field, and he can run. So, yeah, he’s doing a lot. He’s got a good grasp of their offense. We evaluated all the quarterbacks coming out in that draft and we felt like he was definitely one of the better quarterbacks.”
They just decided against taking him. There was speculation at the time that Houston passed on Derek Carr because David struggled during his time with the Texans.
David Carr was sacked 76 times as a rookie in 2002 and 249 times in five seasons. He never had a passer rating higher than 83.5 and didn’t produce a winning record in any season with Houston before ending his career as mostly a backup with Carolina, San Francisco and the New York Giants.
With help from a stronger offensive line and good pocket presence, Derek Carr has been sacked only 62 times in 41 career games.
“He can go up there and fix a problem,” ESPN analyst Jon Gruden said. “If there’s a blitz coming on the left, he doesn’t miss it; he changes the protection. He hand signals the route. He keeps the Raiders in optimum play selection, and things don’t have to perfect. I mean, if the pocket isn’t clean, he can just slide two feet to his right and throw an awkward-delivery release 18 yards down the field on the dime. He’s got very good pocket skills.”
Gruden worked Carr out at his quarterback camp before the draft and came away extremely impressed. He recalled Carr hitting a target 20 yards downfield so accurately that it broke the cameras filming the session.
Carr has shown more of those skills while starting every game for Oakland since entering the league.
Houston, on the other hand, has started seven quarterbacks in that span. The Texans gave Brock Osweiler a $72 million, four-year contract this offseason to fill that role but he has struggled in his first full season as a starter.
Osweiler has completed just 58.6 percent of his passes and is last in the league with 5.6 yards per attempt. He has thrown only 11 touchdown passes with nine interceptions and has a passer rating of 74.1.
Now they get a chance to see how much Carr has developed since he faced them two years ago in his second game as a starter.
Carr was intercepted twice that game as Oakland lost 30-14 as part of a 0-10 start to his career.
“Now, he shows signs of reading defenses, changing plays at the line of scrimmage, he can make all the throws, he can control the pocket and his movement in the pocket so that he can make a throw,” Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel said. “He’s a different cat and better. He’s a better guy then we faced a couple years ago.”
NOTES: The NFL said there was no update on the status of LB Aldon Smith, who is waiting to be reinstated after his one-year suspension for substance abuse ended Thursday. Commissioner Roger Goodell must decide whether to reinstate Smith before he can make a comeback. … DL Mario Edwards Jr. remains sidelined from a preseason hip injury.