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New Raiders backup QB AJ McCarron rushes to get up to speed

AJ McCarron is putting in long hours at the Oakland…Enlarge

ALAMEDA, Calif. — AJ McCarron found out he was traded, quickly packed a bag, said goodbye to his family and headed out to Oakland to join the Raiders.

As crazy as those first few hours were following McCarron’s trade from the Buffalo Bills to Oakland, the whirlwind hasn’t slowed down a bit since McCarron joined his new team.

He had new teammates and coaches to meet and an entire offense to learn in just over a week now that he’s Derek Carr’s only backup and could be thrust into action Monday night when Oakland opens its season against the Los Angeles Rams.

“It’s not the easiest thing in the world. I’m trying my hardest,” McCarron said. “I’ve been coming in really early, spending a lot of time staying late. God forbid something happens, hopefully I can go out there and handle it pretty well.”

The Raiders dealt a 2019 fifth-round pick to the Bills last Saturday for McCarron and then immediately cut E.J. Manuel and Connor Cook, who had been competing for the backup job.

Oakland had been anticipating McCarron might be available with Buffalo having drafted Josh Allen in the first round and also having Nathan Peterman in place.

“We kind of had our eye on him,” offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. “Had been evaluating him through the preseason with the thought that maybe there might be an opportunity for some of those quarterbacks or one of those quarterbacks on that team to become available. We had some intel on AJ from other coaches that had worked with him. But we liked the player. We’re happy to get him. He’s been good since he’s been here. He’s been a quick study in terms of picking up the offense. He’s been in the building from dawn to dusk every day. Just a real pleasure to have him right now.”

McCarron has been working extensively with quarterbacks coach Brian Callahan to learn a complex offense installed by coach Jon Gruden.

McCarron said it’s completely different than what he had been running in Buffalo all offseason but he is familiar with many of the West Coast concepts. The main job this week is learning the language and the formations that go with the offense.

“I do a pretty good job of managing all that,” McCarron said. “When it comes to learning football I think I’m pretty smart. You can only play so many defenses. It’s just being real familiar and knowing the ins and outs of the offense. God forbid I get in there, it’s not going to be perfect. But I know how to battle and keep trying.”

McCarron had hoped to be the starter in Buffalo after spending his first four seasons as the backup to Andy Dalton in Cincinnati. McCarron started just three regular-season games and one playoff contest for the Bengals but got a two-year contract from the Bills that included a $4 million signing bonus.

But that never materialized as the Bills went with Peterman as the starter until Allen is ready to take over, and McCarron now needs to sell the house he bought in Buffalo.

“It’s a business. There’s a lot of things that go on behind the scenes. It’s part of it,” he said. “I enjoyed my time there, even though it was for a cup of coffee and maybe a doughnut. The people there are great, the fans are really awesome. We lived in a great neighborhood. It was an awesome city and we enjoyed our time there.”

NOTES: RB Marshawn Lynch has been limited by a groin injury all week but is not listed on the injury report for the game against the Rams. … RB DeAndre Washington (knee) is out and DT Brian Price (hamstring) is questionable.

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