Raiders quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a concussion on Sunday against the Steelers, leaving his status for their Week 4 matchup against the Chargers up in the air.
If he isn’t able to clear concussion protocol in time to take the field at Sofi Stadium on Sunday, the Raiders face an interesting decision on who to call on as his replacement.
It includes weighing the short-term term benefit of turning to veteran backup Brian Hoyer against the long-range considerations offered by rookie Aidan O’Connell.
“I think we’ll try to do the right thing for the team this week for sure,” said Raiders coach Josh McDaniels. “No matter what it is and whatever that ultimately ends up being.”
On the surface, Hoyer makes sense because of his experience, understanding of the offense and the opportunity he gives the Raiders to play a competitive game against their AFC West rival.
But a big-picture element might be too compelling to ignore. That would be O’Connell, the Raiders’ fourth-round draft pick from Purdue who impressed throughout training camp and the preseason.
The Raiders could use Garoppolo’s potential absence as an opportunity to get O’Connell onto the field to expedite his development and their evaluation of him.
The experience he’d gain by getting the majority of the first-team reps in this week’s practice and preparing and studying as the Week 4 starter would be invaluable. So too would the chance to command a veteran huddle and face a regular-season defense that will draw up a Raiders-specific defensive game plan.
That is unlike during the preseason, when there is little game-planning and even less usage of starting players.
There is always risk in turning to a rookie quarterback. And for a club that needs to get back to even after the Steelers pushed their record to 1-2 on Sunday, the sense of urgency is real.
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