ALAMEDA, Calif. -- No, EJ Manuel is not looking at this as a second chance. Not when franchise quarterback Derek Carr is expected to be back under center for the Oakland Raiders within two to six weeks.
But the 2013 first-round draft pick doesn't consider himself a mere placeholder, either.
"It doesn't really change," Manuel said of his mindset as the new Raiders starter with Carr suffering a transverse process fracture in his back.
Carr was working out in a rehab pool at the Raiders' facility Wednesday as the team practiced.
"The only difference is the reps. I still show up at the same time, still go home at the same time. Preparation-wise is still the same. [Offensive coordinator Todd Downing] is talking to me directly now instead of talking to Derek in meetings, but not too much has changed."
Now, before you start worrying that Manuel isn't taking the gig seriously enough -- he should be in there early and stay late! -- he has already been preparing as a starter, even as Carr's backup. And it's not the first time Manuel has been a heartbeat away from starting, as he was a backup to Christian Ponder at Florida State, Tyrod Taylor after losing the starting job in Buffalo and, obviously, to Carr after beating out Connor Cook in training camp for the No. 2 QB spot in Oakland.
Manuel said he arrives at the Raiders' facility at the same time as Carr, so that will stay the same.
"Once we found out that I'd be playing this week, he's been there for me the whole time," Manuel said of Carr.
"Everything's been the same. It's just, he's not playing."
Teammates have already gone on the record to say how much trust they have in Manuel. And it is a given the Raiders are in a better position to withstand the blow of losing Carr this time around with the struggling Baltimore Ravens coming to Oakland this weekend.
After all, last season, the Raiders went into the playoffs with a rookie, Cook, who had not dressed for a game until the week prior.
"Obviously, a lot better situation," said Raiders coach Jack Del Rio. "We have a guy who's taken snaps in the league, started games and will have time to prepare. So I think it's a lot different scenario.
"Bottom line is, as a football team we have to find a way."
Manuel, who played in Buffalo with tight end Lee Smith, also played in college at Florida State with defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. and center Rodney Hudson.
"You never want to see your quarterback go down," Hudson said. "It's tough, for any position. You don't ever want to see your brother on the field, laying down hurt. But EJ was prepared and came in and did a good job."
Sunday at Denver, Manuel replaced Carr late in the third quarter and completed his first eight passes and finished 11-of-17 for 106 yards. Manuel had the Raiders at the Broncos' 36-yard line at the two-minute warning but his deep pass to Amari Cooper was intercepted inside the 10-yard line.
Broncos 16, Raiders 10.
"I saw fast decision-making, I saw accuracy," Manuel said when asked what he saw of himself on the game film. "When I went in the game, I just wanted to help us win.
"I'm really proud of the preparation weeks beforehand because I never know when I'll have the opportunity to play. Obviously, we wanted Derek to play because he's our starter, but when the opportunity calls, you have to be ready to go out there and handle your business."
The negative, then, for a guy with 29 career games under his belt and a 6-11 career record as a starter?
"The only issue was just the pick at the end," Manuel said. "I wish I would've took it down and ran, or maybe checked it down. Threw the ball outside a little more for Coop to help him out a little bit. Besides that, I thought it was solid.
"Not too much unfamiliarity. So I think we're ready to go."