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DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 01: Quarterback Derek Carr #4 of the Oakland Raiders leaves the game with an injury against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on October 1, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Derek Carr suffered a transverse process fracture in his back against the Broncos on October 1st. He did not return to the game and did not play against Baltimore this past week.

But the Raiders are expecting him to be ready to go for this week’s matchup with the Chargers.

“I anticipate he’ll be ready to go,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “He was pushing pretty hard last week.”

Carr wanted to play against Baltimore. He even practiced during the week, leading to some speculation that he could have played a week after suffering his injury. But EJ Manuel got the start and Carr was inactive.

With the Raiders sitting at 2-3 and Manuel having failed his test as a Carr replacement, playoff hopes may rest on Carr’s return.

The Raiders had last season end in the playoffs with Carr unable play after breaking his fibula. Life without Carr is rough. Manuel was supposed to be an upgrade and give the Raiders a chance to win if Carr went down again.

But he struggled. Manuel didn’t even look Amari Cooper’s way, targeting him just twice despite him coming open all day against the Ravens.

“I saw five wide open, shook his guy, was open in space,” Del Rio said of Cooper. “I would have loved to see that ball get delivered to him there. Not every play is designed to go to him. You can’t see everybody at one time. Sometimes you start with your read somewhere else and you don’t make it back for whatever reason. He was doing his part to create space and opportunity for the quarterback. We just missed him a couple of times.”

A back-up quarterback’s dream is to have his number one receiver break wide open for easy completions. But Manuel just wasn’t looking his way.

Cooper has placed some doubt on himself with seven drops this season. And even when Carr was taking snaps, the Cooper has been largely ineffective since week one.

Over the last three games Cooper has just four receptions for 23 yards.

That should change – especially if he is open five times – with Carr back in the lineup.

The bigger question for the Raiders is how ready Carr is. If he is 100 percent, this isn’t an issue. But Jack Del Rio gave an original timeline for Carr’s absence of 2-6 weeks.

If Carr plays this week he will have missed five quarters of football.

The 2017 Raiders need Carr back. The playoffs seems to be slipping out of sight, and Carr could help steer the ship back towards the promised land.

But the Raiders pumped $125 million to Carr this offseason. The Raiders as a franchise need Carr healthy for a long time. The next three years are more important than the next three games.

Tyler Bischoff hosts Coaches Corner on AM 720 KDWN Monday through Friday at 6:00 pm.