Connor Cook will make his first career start under center for the Oakland Raiders in Saturday’s playoff matchup against the Houston Texans.
Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio confirmed that Connor Cook will start on Saturday in an AFC Wild Card playoff game against the Houston Texans, according to SiriusXM NFL Radio.
The Raiders traded up to select Cook in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft with the hopes of grooming him to be a backup for Derek Carr. Instead, Cook will be pressed into action far earlier than Oakland wanted, with his first career start coming on the road in a playoff game.
Oakland looked poised for a Super Bowl run until Carr suffered a broken fibula in a Week 16 game against the Indianapolis Colts. To make matters worse, backup Matt McGloin left the Raiders’ next game against the Denver Broncos with a shoulder problem, leaving his status up in the air for Saturday.
Cook made his first NFL appearance in place of McGloin and completed 14 of his 21 passes for 150 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Del Rio waited until Wednesday to confirm Cook would start in Houston, while the Raiders also signed Garrett Gilbert to the practice squad in case McGloin is inactive.
While Cook faces an impossible situation as the first player in the Super Bowl era to make his debut start in the playoffs, he at least has some big game experience following a strong college career at Michigan State. The Spartans won a pair of New Year’s Six bowls in Cook’s first two years as a starter before he led them to the 2015 College Football Playoff.
Cook will also be helped out by an outstanding supporting cast on offense, including receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. The Texans have some quarterback troubles themselves, as the ineffective Brock Osweiler will start over Tom Savage.