ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — As painful as a broken bone in his back may have been for Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, being forced to sit and watch his teammates play caused perhaps as much hurt.
Carr got hurt in Denver on Oct. 1 and immediately apologized to coach Jack Del Rio for missing time. But now after sitting out last week against Baltimore when Oakland (2-3) lost its third straight game, Carr is on target to return Sunday when the Raiders host the Los Angeles Chargers (1-4).
"I felt bad because I care so much about this team and this organization that even though I had a broken back I still felt bad that I couldn't be out there to help because as you guys know, I sat there for two games last year and had to watch knowing there's nothing I could do to help," Carr said. "It is a lonely feeling. It hurts because I see the sacrifice all my teammates make and I just want to be out there to help them because I believe that I can."
The Raiders need a healthy Carr to reverse this recent slide that began with losses at Washington and Denver when Oakland was held to 10 points or fewer in consecutive games for the first time since 2009. Oakland has lost its 11 games that weren't started by Carr, including the regular-season finale and playoff game last season.
Carr got hurt in the second half of the 16-10 loss to the Broncos and backup E.J. Manuel couldn't get the offense going last week in a 30-17 loss to Baltimore.
There were some signs of improvement, including the Raiders running for 108 yards after being held to 56 over the previous two weeks combined. But Oakland had only 137 yards passing as the offense struggled for a third straight week after scoring 71 points the first two games.
"We just have to be efficient," Carr said. "I'm sitting there watching the game, when you watch it from the sideline it's really hard. To sit there and see certain looks and see things going on with all those kind of things. I think that if we can just be efficient, and each man has to do their job."
The one aspect of the offense that has been missing most has been receiver Amari Cooper, who has been held to four catches for 23 yards the past three games.
Cooper topped 1,000 yards receiving in each of his first two seasons but has been missing in action this year either because of dropped passes, bad throws or quarterbacks not targeting him when he's open.
"I think everyone on our team is a little frustrated at something," Carr said. "That's just one thing. The frustration, that part of it is what we have to get rid of. We just have to go out and let it loose. I don't think there's one thing where it's like, hey, it's this or it's that that leads to that. I think if we can go out there and cut it loose and just trust what we have, I think we'll be better going forward."
Carr practiced on a limited basis Wednesday and said he still feels some pain. He said doctors have talked about whether he will need to wear extra protection for the game with a decision coming later this week.
"It just hurts," he said. "It's not like anything that's like, 'Oh man, if I take a hit, I'm worried.' It's not like a worry. It's just one of those things you have to deal with. Just like everybody in the NFL right now."
Carr doesn't get it easy in his return. He faces the Chargers on Sunday and their elite pass rushers Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram and then has to come back on a short week before playing Justin Houston and Kansas City next Thursday.
Ingram and Bosa have combined for 12 sacks and dish out plenty of hits to opposing quarterbacks.
"I don't think that's really a mindset, at least of mine, to ever injure a player," Bosa said. "I wouldn't say I'm trying to hit a quarterback more than any other day. I'm always trying to hit them as much as I can."
NOTES: CB Gareon Conley (shin), LB Cory James (knee), LB Marquel Lee (ankle), FB Jamize Olawale (concussion), TE Lee Smith (knee) and CB Antonio Hamilton (knee) did not practice. ... CB David Amerson (shoulder) and G Gabe Jackson (foot) were limited after missing last week's game.