In a surprise move, the Raiders are turning to their promising rookie quarterback for Sunday's game against the Chargers.
Sources say that Aidan O’Connell, Las Vegas' fourth-rounder from Purdue, is expected to be their starting QB today with Jimmy Garoppolo ruled out due to a concussion. Brian Hoyer, who backed up Garoppolo for the first three weeks of the season, will remain in his No. 2 role.
Garoppolo was ruled out on Saturday night and did not travel with the team to Los Angeles due to his concussion. Garoppolo did practice this past week, but he was limited on Thursday and Friday before his status was made official on Saturday.
O'Connell's reps in practice increased throughout the week.
While it's rare for a third-string QB to leapfrog a backup, this is a decision that makes sense. O'Connell impressed in the preseason, going 43 of 62 for 482 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions. The fan interest in O'Connell has been building since August. While Hoyer has always been a steady backup, he's a 15-year veteran in whom you know what you have.
Starting O'Connell presents an opportunity for the Raiders to not only play a QB who gives you a chance to win, but also to see what you have in the first-year player. With accuracy and a quick release, there is a lot to like with O'Connell.
Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels was asked this past week about potentially going to a relatively inexperienced quarterback compared to someone with 40 career starts.
"Experience is valuable," McDaniels said, "and at the same time, we will try to play the right person, based on what the situation is and how practice goes, if that's what it comes to."
"I think sometimes, experience is a good thing," McDaniels continued. "It doesn't mean that it's going to determine how it's going to go for one guy versus another."