Antonio Smith played with Derek Carr in Oakland during the quarterback's rookie campaign in 2014. The Texans defensive end will face a much-improved version on Monday Night Football in Mexico City.
"He looks like the same player just with, you know, with a little more wisdom he gained from the game," Smith said on Texans TV. "I always saw it in him from Day One. He had the heart, he had the determination, he had the will to do it. He had every little thing you would need him to have. It just wasn't clicking on all cylinders that season."
As a rookie, Carr threw for 3,270 yards, 21 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, but the Raiders lost 10 consecutive games before finished the season with a 3-13 record. Now in his third year, Carr is having his best season yet, throwing for 17 touchdowns and just three interceptions. He's also rushed for 64 yards on 22 carries. The key will be to contain Carr, according to Smith.
"One thing you got to do is bucket that pocket, create like a little funnel in that pocket where he won't be able to use his legs to his advantage," Smith said. "And he has a great offensive line."
Oakland currently ranks fifth in the NFL with points per game (27.2).The Texans have a big challenge in facing Carr and a Raiders team that is coming off a bye week after winning three consecutive games.
"He's (Carr's) having a heck of a year," head 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."
The (6-3) Texans and (7-2) Raiders will kickoff at 7:30 p.m. from Estadio Azteca on Monday Night Football. The game will be broadcast on ESPN and SportsRadio 610.
Check out the best shot from Wednesdays practice as the Texans prepare for the Raiders on Monday Night Football.