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NFL notes: Rookie Connor Cook will start at QB for Raiders

Raiders rookie Connor Cook will become the first quarterback to debut as a starter in the playoffs. (Jack Dempsey / Associated Press)
Raiders rookie Connor Cook will become the first quarterback to debut as a starter in the playoffs. (Jack Dempsey / Associated Press)
Associated Press

The Oakland Raiders are going with rookie Connor Cook at quarterback in their wild-card game against the Texans.

Oakland coach Jack Del Rio announced the decision in a conference call with reporters in Houston on Wednesday.

Cook gets the nod with Pro Bowler Derek Carr out with a broken leg and backup Matt McGloin nursing a shoulder injury that could make it tough for him to practice enough before Saturday’s game at Houston. Cook will be the first quarterback to make his first career start in the postseason.

Despite appearing in just one game as a rookie, the Raiders (12-4) say Cook showed some “swagger” when he replaced McGloin in the second quarter on Sunday in Denver, and has their confidence heading into the game against the Texans (9-7) because of what they’ve seen all year.

“It’s obviously not ideal, that’s why it’s never happened where a rookie gets his start in a playoff game,” Del Rio said. “But he played well last week and he’s the healthiest option so it makes it really an obvious choice.”

Del Rio said they hope that McGloin will be healthy enough by Saturday to be Cook’s backup.

Cook was a fourth-round pick this year after a four-year career at Michigan State where he threw for 9,194 yards with 71 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. Del Rio said they like the way he’s worked and developed since he was drafted and think that his pedigree in big games in college should help on Saturday.

“He won a lot of big games at Michigan State,” Del Rio said. “I know this is a different level, but he’s got that kind of unflappable feel about him. We’re going to trust him to go out and lead us.”

Second chance

Brock Osweiler is getting a second chance to start for the Houston Texans.

With Tom Savage out with a concussion, the Texans will look to their $72 million man to lead them in their wild-card playoff game against Oakland.

Osweiler joined the Texans in the offseason on that huge contract after spending his first four seasons in Denver. He started the first 14 games this season before being benched in the second quarter against Jacksonville on Dec. 18 after throwing interceptions on consecutive drives to give him 16 for the season. Savage took over and rallied the Texans to the victory and started Houston’s last two games.

But Savage suffered a concussion early in the second quarter Sunday in a loss to the Titans , and Osweiler took over and threw for 253 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score.

It will be Osweiler’s first career playoff start after he was benched for Peyton Manning before the start of the postseason in Denver last season.

“It’s a dream come true … I couldn’t be more excited,” Osweiler said. “I can’t wait for Saturday to be here.”

Around the league

The 49ers interviewed Bills interim coach Anthony Lynn for their head coach opening. … Bears chairman George McCaskey insists he still has faith in coach John Fox and GM Ryan Pace, even after the team’s worst season in decades.

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