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Remember him? Clive Walford stepped up for Derek Carr, Raiders

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The way Clive Walford sees things, he and Derek Carr were starting to click late last season.

Then the Oakland Raiders' quarterback suffered a season-ending injury in Week 16.

Carr’s ankle healed and with Walford fully recovered from the offseason ATV accident that slowed him early in the 2016 season, the QB and tight end would pick up where they left off, right?

Well…

The Raiders signed Jared Cook to be the pass-catching tight end this past offseason and with Lee Smith returning to his role as blocking tight end, Walford became an odd man out, of sorts.

Until Sunday against the New York Giants.

With receivers Michael Crabtree (suspended) and Amari Cooper (concussion/left ankle) out, and after Cook’s knee got dinged up on a low tackle, guess who showed up again, to the tune of four catches for 57 yards, including a clutch 26-yarder down the middle of the field for a first down on second-and-6 midway through the third quarter?

“Clive did a great job,” Carr said. “He’s really done a great job ever since that Indianapolis game last year when I broke my ankle. I felt like that was our best game -- we were rolling, chemistry and things like that.”

Walford had two catches for 20 yards with a 5-yard TD against the Colts.

“Adding Jared just added talent to the room,” Carr added. “[Clive] hasn’t had as many opportunities. He knew -- and I’ve seen it in practice -- whenever he did, that he was going to be able to win the one-on-ones. ... He was explosive for us.”

Said Walford: “I think we just picked up where we left off.”

Walford entered the Giants game with just three catches for 10 yards on the season and had yet to play more than 14 snaps on offense this season, a year after his low was 29 snaps in 2016.

Yeah, the arrival of Cook ate into Walford’s time after the third-round draft pick from Miami caught 28 passes for 329 yards and three touchdowns as a rookie in 2015 and had 33 catches for 359 yards and three TDs last season.

“I’m a competitor, you know?” Walford said Tuesday. “I watched film on [Cook]. I knew he was a great player. I just thought that I could benefit from him. That was the positive I took from it. I didn’t want to get down about it.

“So that’s what it is. I’ve been learning from him and Lee Smith.”

At 6-feet-4, 258 pounds, Walford is a big target for Carr, one that was not necessarily needed until Week 13.

“Clive’s been doing this since he got here,” left tackle Donald Penn said. “I told Clive today, I said, ‘I’m not saying congratulations. This is what you’ve been doing. You’ve been doing that, and that’s what we expect.’

“This year, he had to tie down a little bit and do other stuff, but that’s part of being a football player. You haven’t heard Clive complain once. Been a true professional about it. When his number is called, what you go out there and do? Go out there and make great plays and make great catches. That’s how your number gets called more, so I’m happy for him but Clive did that for us last year, did it the year before, so that’s what’s expected.”

Crabtree is back for the Raiders, his one-game suspension completed, and Cooper was seen in the locker room Tuesday sans walking boot or much of a limp. Same with Cook.

Not that any of that matters to Walford, or how he will gear up for the Kansas City Chiefs.

“You just have to prepare and get yourself ready and, whenever your number’s called, you’ve got to make a play,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s the coach’s decision. So whatever they decide, I’ll be ready.”