With Jimmy Garoppolo in concussion protocol, Raiders' starting QB vs. Chargers is unknown

Jimmy Garoppolo has been preparing as if he's going to be the Las Vegas Raiders' starting quarterback on Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers. The Raiders' medical staff will make the call, and that might not happen until shortly before game time.

Garoppolo, who's in the concussion protocol, was limited in Thursday’s practice and has been taking part in meetings.

Whether Garoppolo plays might not be decided until the weekend. The Raiders could go with 15-year veteran Brian Hoyer or rookie Aidan O’Connell.

Coach Josh McDaniels said experience will not be the deciding factor if Garoppolo can't go.

“I think everybody is going to get ready to go,” he said. “I think sometimes experience is a good thing, it doesn’t mean that it’s going to determine how it’s going to go for one guy versus another. Ultimately what matters is how they perform, not how long they’ve been in the NFL, or how many games they’ve played in or what have you.”

Linebacker Khalil Mack, who began his career with the Raiders, said that despite all three quarterbacks having different styles, preparing for them is not as difficult as one might think.

“It’s more so about their system, understanding what they want to do with Davante Adams and Josh Jacobs. That’s the only thing we're concerned about,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Chargers' passing game is thriving under Justin Herbert. The fourth-year quarterback leads the league with a 74.4% completion rate and is second with a 112.9 passer rating.

Keenan Allen leads the league with 32 receptions, but his fellow veteran wideout, Mike Williams, suffered a season-ending knee injury in last week's win at Minnesota.

Both teams are 1-2. The Raiders' win came in the opener against AFC West rival Denver, while the Chargers are playing their first division game.

“All of the division games, there’s just a different caliber of energy," coach Brandon Staley said. "You know each other a lot better — certainly, with this group, with the same head coach, we’ve played these guys and they’ve played us. It’s going to be a really big-time environment on Sunday.”


Adams was vocal after Sunday night’s 23-18 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, saying the team wasn’t “doing things the right way to establish a winning culture.”

On Wednesday, he made it clear those words weren’t directed at the organization.

“That was about us as a football team and the players that go out there and have the most control over what happens in the outcome of games,” said Adams, who is tied for third in the league with 25 catches. “I think it’s really cowardly and small to take shots at coaches when we have the most to do with what happens ultimately out there on the field. I’m a pretty direct dude, so if it was that, I wouldn’t personally decide to go to the media about it. I would take care of it the way that a man is supposed to.”

This isn’t the first time Adams has been vocal about his concerns regarding the direction of the team, which he joined last year after eight seasons with the Green Bay Packers.

Adams needs 41 yards to become one of 27 players in NFL history to reach 10,000 receiving yards in his first 10 seasons.


After going against Miami's Tyreek Hill and Minnesota's Justin Jefferson so far, the Chargers' beleaguered defense now has to face Adams.

Adams had 18 catches for 318 yards and three touchdowns combined in the two meetings last season, including an eight-catch, 177-yard game in the Raiders' Week 13 win.

Los Angeles is last in the league in pass defense, giving up 337 yards per game. It has allowed 17 pass plays of at least 20 yards, tied with Seattle for the most. Cornerbacks Asante Samuel and Michael Davis have struggled and J.C. Jackson was inactive last week despite being healthy. Safety Derwin James is questionable after suffering a hamstring injury at Minnesota.


The Chargers had 234 rushing yards in the opener, but with Austin Ekeler sidelined with a high ankle sprain the last two weeks, the ground game has resembled last year's, which was near the bottom of the league.

Los Angeles has only 91 rushing yards the past two games. Joshua Kelley is averaging 2.1 yards per carry the last two weeks, and was stopped for no gain on a critical fourth-and-1 last week that would have sealed the game. Eight of his 24 carries the last two games have gone for no gain or negative yards.


Double-teaming Las Vegas defensive end Maxx Crosby isn’t so easy this season because he is shifting around.

Crosby has two sacks through three games. He missed practice Thursday with a knee injury.

“I’ve been working on that during camp, moving all around and I enjoy it,” Crosby said. “I feel like I can win regardless of where I’m at on the line of scrimmage. I just want to give our team the best chance to win.”

The Raiders have had to be creative with end Chandler Jones on the non-football illness list. Las Vegas has struggled to find someone opposite Crosby who can take the pressure off him.

They have gone with three tackles and tried undersized Malcolm Koonce and rookie Tyree Wilson.


AP Sports Writer Mark Anderson in Las Vegas contributed to this report.



Joe Reedy, The Associated Press