For the first time in the Super Bowl era, it appears a rookie quarterback will be making his first start in an NFL playoff game.
According to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, the Oakland Raiders are moving forward with "the expectation that" Connor Cook is their projected starter for Saturday's matchup against the Houston Texans. Matt McGloinsuffered an injury to his trapezius muscle in a season-ending loss to the Broncos and will not be ready. Cook, in relief, completed 14 of 21 passes for 150 yards, a touchdown and an interception. McGloin was 6 of 11 for 21 yards.
For those enamored by the quarterback position, Saturday might be a difficult one to get excited about. If Cook starts, he'll face off against the embattled Texans starter Brock Osweiler who, despite some fleeting moments of solid play this season, was benched for his overall ineffectiveness. Osweiler's replacement, Tom Savage, sustained a concussion against the Titans this past weekend and has yet to be cleared.
"There are two ways of looking at it, so I think obviously the weight of, 'Oh my gosh, this is your first start and it's going to be a playoff game,' that's a big one to bite off," Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said Monday, via CSN Bay Area. "Whether that is the case or whether (Cook) comes in in a backup role, we'll see.
"We're going to work through the week the best we can, see what we have health-wise with our team and then make that determination."
Both teams have potentially explosive running games and defenses, which may be what the matchup boils down to. Del Rio will be tested like never before, tailoring his game plan to a quarterback getting his feet wet on the sport's biggest stage.