Las Vegas Raiders fans got a surprise on Sunday morning. With starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo out with a concussion, most expected his replacement, veteran Brian Hoyer, to start against the Los Angeles Chargers. But instead, Ian Rapoport reported that rookie Aidan O’Connell, the third-string QB, would start instead.
A surprise: The #Raiders Rookie QB Aidan O’Connell is expected to face the #Charger, say sources. With Jimmy Garoppolo out with a concussion, veteran backup Brian Hoyer is expected to start. Instead, it’s the promising newcomer. pic.twitter.com/Snh8JNWSYl
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 1, 2023
O’Connell, 25, was drafted by the Raiders out of Purdue in the fourth round. He had an outstanding preseason, completing 43 of 62 passes for 482 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions. But since the Raiders handed Garoppolo a three-year, $72.75 million free agent contract this offseason, there was never a chance he could take the starting job.
It’s rare for an inexperienced third-stringer to overtake an established backup quarterback like Hoyer, who has 40 NFL starts in 15 years. But with the Raiders’ carefully laid plans for the season already in jeopardy due to Garoppolo’s concussion, they have a chance to see if O’Connell’s great preseason can lead to regular-season success.
It is unknown how long Garoppolo, who suffered a concussion during the Raiders’ loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 3, will be out. Whether O’Connell starts beyond Week 4 depends on how he performs against the Chargers and whether Garoppolo needs more time to recover.