TJ Carrie showing strong value as late pick

Despite the team being 0-5, Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie has to be pleased with the play of rookie cornerback TJ Carrie.

The Raiders selected the rookie out of the University of Ohio in in the seventh round (219th overall) and it seems to be great value already, though his career is young.

With second-year cornerback D.J. Hayden sidelined because of a foot surgery, the Raiders have been forced to turn to Carrie a lot on defense.

Though he has had some rookie hiccups along the way, the 20-year-old cornerback has shown great promise. He has totaled 14 tackles and four passes defensed in the five games played.

Interim head coach Tony Sparano has liked what he saw from Carrie on Sunday.

“I thought, obviously, on defense I felt him challenging the football,” Sparano said. “I felt TJ out there challenging the football. I felt him around the ball on defense.”

The Bay Area native has also been a nice spark in special teams, where he continues to improve the Raiders return game.

The Raiders have been abysmal in punt returns in recent years, averaging just 8.2 yard in punt returns last year with a long of 30. Carrie is currently averaging 9.3 yards per punt, on 10 returns.

The Raiders were primarily going with backup running back Latavius Murray on kickoff returns until Sparano decided to switch it up during the bye week. The interim head coach turned to his punt returner, Carrie, to see if he could provide a spark.

Carrie took over on kick return duties for the first time against the San Diego Chargers in week six. Granted it’s a small sample size, but the rookie had three returns for an average of 28.3 yards, and a long of 38 yards.

Sparano was pleased with the results of the change, based on just one game.

“We put him back there for kickoffs, which was something we talked about over the bye, and then punt return in there,” Sparano said. “He helped us shorten the field a little bit and our offense took advantage in some of those situations, off of those type of deals, which was really good to see, a couple of phases working together.”

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