"I think he just got roughed up there. He got tackled. Something causes his back to spasm up," Del Rio said. "I didn't see much that would indicate the he would be injured. His back spasmed up."
Carr left the game with about five minutes to go in the third quarter. The injury was sustained on a sack -- one where the team's franchise quarterback pinballed between two Broncos defenders on his way to the ground. After spending some brief time in the medical tent, Carr was ushered into the locker room and did not return to play.
"I tried to come in here and have them work on it. I tried to throw and all those kind of things and it just wasn't ready yet," Carr told reporters after the game. "I tried to do anything I could to be back out there. I just couldn't."
Sitting at 2-2, the Raiders still have a long way to go and did not want to risk Carr's injury turning into something more significant. Having seen life without the $125 million man in the playoffs a year ago, Oakland is going to do anything to ensure his long-term health.
This is a season in Oakland defined by the Raiders' Super Bowl aspirations. The addition of veterans like Marshawn Lynch and the top-dollar money thrown at the team's high-profile offensive line are all signs of a club that saw themselves on the brink just a year ago. Without Carr, the combination of Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper is nowhere near as potent. Lynch can be effective against an eight-man box anticipating the run, but was shut down on Sunday against an excellent Broncos defense.
So it goes for Del Rio, who will exercise patience and caution with Carr all the way. When it comes to the face of the franchise, there is no other option.