After the Oakland Raiders made the NFL playoffs for the first time in more than a decade in 2016, franchise quarterback Derek Carr is ready to get to training camp and kickoff the upcoming season.
Carr joined The Jim Rome Show Thursday on CBS Sports Radio and clearly likes the pieces the team added this off-season but knows it promises nothing without commitment.
“The expectation level is different the culture is different, it is a very exciting time for us in our organization. At the same time, it’s not very exciting if you don’t put the work in,” Carr said. “We have a lot of work to do. Like I said to somebody the other day, we didn’t even beat the Chiefs last year, so we have a lot to do to get better as football team and it starts in training camp.”
Of course, Carr spent most of his off-season rehabbing from a broken ankle that ended his season during Week 16 against the Indianapolis Colts. Following surgery, Carr says his mind was in the right place thanks in large part to his boyhood idol sending him a message.
“Mentally, I remember after my surgery I had fallen asleep and taken a nap. I woke up and my wife said check your phone. I check my phone and Kobe Bryant had tweeted me, and said ‘Come back better than ever or come back stronger than ever.’ That right there, the whole mindset for me turned on right then,” Carr said. “It was time to stop napping and it was time to start rehabbing. So I just started to wiggle my toes, move my ankle as much as I could and my calf all those things, that part was easy. So the mental side, cause Kobe’s my favorite athlete of all-time, for someone to have their favorite athlete reach out and tell them that, I mean what more motivation could you want. So mentally, it was good.”
However, Carr admitted the physical side of the rehab was harder.
“Dropping back for the first time during OTA’s feeling that rust for the first time, and having to step up in the pocket really hard and really trust it,” Carr said about what was difficult. “To be honest, it felt stronger, so I think that that gave me a lot confidence this off-season, knowing that with that plate in there, it actually feels better.”
As for why Bryant was Carr’s favorite athlete, the two-time Pro Bowler said it’s because of the former Laker’s drive.
“He is the most competitive person I could ever find. His drive, his work ethic were unmatched,” Carr said. “That is how I’ve viewed my game ever since I was little. I don’t care who you put next to me, I don’t care who you put in the same place as I am, I’m going to outwork, I’m going to bite your head off to try to win that game.
“Now do you win them all? No, but there’s no doubt in my mind more times than not or eventually I’m going to end up getting better and I’m going to end up biting your head off. And that whole mindset and mentality I saw in Kobe was something that I wanted. So I watched every game, watched every interview, everything to just learn how he got his mind to that place and tried to emulate it.”