INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — On their first snap of their first game together in nine years, Derek Carr dropped back and immediately hit Davante Adams for an 11-yard completion.
On the opening drive alone, Carr threw to his old college buddy a whopping five times.
By the time Las Vegas’ season opener ended, Carr had targeted Adams 17 times — more than any quarterback threw to any receiver in the NFL’s first 14 games of Week 1. Adams hauled in 10 of those passes for 141 yards and a touchdown in an impressive debut.
Although Carr and Adams clearly have the cohesion you’d expect from former Fresno State teammates who became NFL stars separately and then got reunited, the Raiders’ new dynamic duo couldn’t quite do enough by themselves to get Las Vegas off to a successful start in the new season.
Carr and Adams both left SoFi Stadium expecting even bigger and better things from their renewed connection after the Raiders’ 24-19 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
“We did some good things,” Carr said. “There’s also some things that him and I, we were just talking about in the locker room, the way I see it, the way he sees it, and we’re trying to make that better. So yeah, we had production, but I think that we can be better, and so does he.”
Carr can definitely be better: He passed for 295 yards and two scores, but his career high-tying three interceptions played a major role in Vegas’ narrow loss.
Carr threw just under half of his 37 pass attempts toward Adams, his teammate with the Bulldogs for two seasons before they were selected by different teams in the second round of the 2014 draft. The Raiders traded a first-round pick and a second-rounder to Green Bay last March to bring Adams back West to his favorite team when he was a kid growing up in the Bay Area.
“That’s what they brought me here for — to be a big part of this offense and to help move the ball and put points on the board,” Adams said. “That’s my job. That’s what I’m ready to do. I’m a volume-type guy. I’m always ready for that.”
He got volume early and often from Carr: With five passes thrown his way on the opening drive, Adams became only the third NFL receiver since 2009 to be targeted that many times on the first drive of any team’s season.
Carr said the plays were no statement of intent from him or new coach Josh McDaniels, but rather the result of Carr reading the defense and doing his best to move Vegas’ offense. Given Adams’ talents, it’s no surprise Carr thought he was the best choice so frequently.
Adams’ longest play of the day was a 41-yard catch-and-ramble through the Chargers’ secondary after precise route-running got him wide open.
Later, he scored what turned out to be the game’s final points on a 3-yard TD catch with 4:32 to play.
Adams made 73 touchdown catches for Green Bay, but he saved the football from his first score in silver and black, tucking it into his travel bag for the short trip home to Vegas.
“It’s kind of starting a new chapter in my career, so to get in the end zone for my childhood team meant a lot to me,” Adams said. “It didn’t end up winning the game, but it still means a lot.”
Adams was the clear No. 1 receiver for the Packers, yet he only had three games during his eight prolific seasons in Green Bay in which Aaron Rodgers targeted him more than 17 times. Adams was excited to be the center of Carr’s attention, but both men said Adams doesn’t need to have the ball that much every Sunday.
The Raiders have two prolific complementary pieces around him in Hunter Renfrow and tight end Darren Waller. Renfrow had only three catches for 21 yards against the Chargers after his 103-catch, 1,038-yard season in 2021, but both Adams and Carr expect Renfrow to be more involved going forward.
“If the game goes any other type of way, then we’ll adjust and we’ll deal with that, too,” Adams said. “But that means that somebody else is probably handling their business, and we’re moving the ball. The most important part is for this offense and team to do well.”