ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — As tight end Jared Cook has gotten more comfortable in the Raiders offense he's become an increasingly reliable downfield threat for quarterback Derek Carr. That's been big for Carr, who has struggled trying to get the ball deep to wide receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree this season.
ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — As tight end Jared Cook has gotten more comfortable in the Raiders offense he's become an increasingly reliable downfield threat for quarterback Derek Carr.
That's been big for Carr, who has struggled trying to get the ball deep to wide receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree this season.
"There's a lot of tight ends that can run the intermediate and short routes, but not a lot of them on third down can run a go route and catch a 35-yard gain," Carr said. "Those are few and far between. Having a guy like Jared to have that speed that he doesn't just run the short stuff or intermediate stuff, he can take the top off and I'm liable to throw it.
"Even if corners are guarding him. I've thrown the ball to him when corners are guarding him. I've thrown it when safeties, linebackers are guarding him. Just having that at our disposal is really nice."
Cook's production over the last month has stood out in particular.
The nine-year veteran caught six passes for 107 yards and fueled Oakland's fourth-quarter comeback against Kansas City in Week 7 then followed that up with eight receptions for 126 yards in the Week 9 win over Miami.
It's only the second time in Cook's career that he has had a pair of 100-yard games in the same season.
Offensive coordinator Todd Downing chalks it up to timing.
"I think he's getting a little bit more comfortable building that chemistry with Derek, understanding route stems and things of that nature," Downing said Thursday. "He's such a long stride guy so he can cover a lot of ground without a lot of steps. He's got that length to be able to adjust to the ball, wherever that may be. He has a skill set that's good in the intermediate and the deep and certainly that's something that lends itself to being productive in the passing game."
Cook was Oakland's top free agent acquisition in the offseason after spending 2016 in Green Bay. He has had at least four catches in six of the Raiders' nine games and leads the team with 39 receptions. By comparison, Cooper has 38 and Crabtree has 36.
At his current pace Cook will finish with 69 catches, which would be a career high and match his total from the last two seasons combined. He also leads the Raiders with a 12.8-yard per-catch average.
"It's fun," Cook said. "That's how football is supposed to be when you can open up the offense, and make plays and stay on the field. Staying on the field helps the whole team out. When you're able to do that, keeping the chains moving, that just helps everybody out, helps everybody get more plays."
That's what Cooper is hoping.
A Pro Bowl selection in each of his first two seasons, Cooper had become the focal point of opposing defensive secondaries. With teams now having to pay more attention to Cook, Cooper could find himself in more favorable matchups.
"I would think so," Cooper said "He's been killing it out there. Usually when a guy does that, teams tend to focus on him. That should free us up some."
Notes: Left tackle Donald Penn returned to practice after missing Wednesday for non-injury reasons. . Cornerback David Amerson (foot) continues to work out on the side away from practice.