Raiders 'right in the mix' in AFC West, NFL analyst Steve Smith Sr. says

Alex Didion
NBC Sports BayArea

Steve Smith Sr. knows a thing or two about achieving longevity and success in the NFL. The former All-Pro wide receiver turned NFL Network analyst accrued almost 15,000 receiving yards and 80 touchdown receptions over a 16-year NFL career.

During a visit to Raiders' training camp Tuesday, Smith was asked to analyze the Silver and Black after a day of in-person evaluation.

"Oakland is right there in the mix, but unfortunately, its a proving season for everybody in the AFC West has to prove that they're a legitimate threat, from one through four," Smith said.

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Smith also explained what improvements fans should expect from Raiders quarterback Derek Carr in year two under Jon Gruden.

"You should expect a quarterback that's more confident, that really understands the concept," Smith said. "By the time he really got things going, and really got to understand, season's over. That's always hard, and there's always some growing pains, so I expect him to play a lot better."

Despite the team posting its worst record since Carr's rookie season in 2018, the signal-caller finished with career-highs in completion percentage, passing yards, and yards per attempt. However, Carr's inflated counting stats might be due in part to the team frequently playing from behind and being forced into more passing situations late.

Smith noted that Gruden's scheme is unique as far as "West Coast" offenses go.

"Gruden has a totally different west coast offense of the normal west coast, so it's kind of an old-school [scheme], where one word tells everybody what to do. And that's hard to take in and also be a leader and focus on getting better for yourself, so there's a lot of moving parts."

[RELATED: Antonio Brown returns to Raiders; agent shuts down AB retirement talk]

If Antonio Brown can keep his head (and correct helmet) on straight -- not to mention having a shiny new first-round pick joining him in the starting offense in running back Josh Jacobs -- Carr has the chance to re-establish himself as one of the top young quarterbacks in the league and carry the Raiders out of the AFC West cellar.

Raiders 'right in the mix' in AFC West, NFL analyst Steve Smith Sr. says originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

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