Raiders express confidence Manuel can fill in for Carr

ALAMEDA, Calif. — The Oakland Raiders were derailed last year as soon as quarterback Derek Carr went down with a broken leg in the next-to-last game of the regular season.

With Carr out again, the Raiders’ ability to perform with E.J. Manuel under center may determine whether they will still be in playoff contention when their first-stringer returns from a back injury that could sideline him between two and six weeks.

One big difference is that, in Manuel, Oakland has a more capable backup this time. Matt McGloin and Connor Cook struggled in a regular-season loss to the Denver Broncos last year that cost Oakland the division title, and then a playoff loss the Houston Texans.

Manuel, a first-round pick by the Buffalo Bills in 2013, showed signs in the second half of last week’s 16-10 loss to the Broncos that he might be able to move the offense when the Raiders (2-2) host the Baltimore Ravens (2-2) on Sunday in the first of three straight home games.

“E.J. is a star in this league,” Oakland receiver Cordarrelle Patterson said Tuesday. “He’s played for a long time and got drafted high in the first round for a reason. We all know what E.J. can do. We’re not impressed with the things he did on Sunday. We’ve seen that each and every day in practice. When the time comes, we know he’s ready with all the work he’s put in and the extra time. That’s what quarterbacks do.”

Manuel completed 11 of 17 passes for 106 yards against Denver. He led a 73-yard drive that ended with a field goal after Jared Cook couldn’t catch a well-thrown ball in the end zone, and then moved the Raiders across midfield while seeking a go-ahead touchdown before throwing an interception on a deep pass with less than two minutes left.

“He hadn’t thrown a ball to those guys because Derek gets all those reps,” tight end Lee Smith said. “To get a full week of work this week in practice, he’ll be fine. We’re not worried about him. We’re going to have his back.”