Derek Carr at presser praises teammates, defense

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Carr on Andre James

After reporting to training camp on Tuesday, the Las Vegas Raiders had their first team practice Wednesday morning. Quarterback Derek Carr spent time catching fans up on the team’s state during his press conference Wednesday afternoon.

One of the Silver and Black’s most pressing questions this offseason has been, “Who will be our starting center?” Third-year player Andre James seems poised to hold down the job. James has played in two games during his time in the NFL and spent the rest of his time as the backup for Rodney Hudson, whom the Raiders traded earlier this offseason. Carr told reporters Wednesday morning that he and James have a great relationship, saying the two often go to each other’s houses for dinner.

Their relationship extends onto the football field in a significant way. Although James has not been an opening day starter yet in his career, Carr says the two have taken “thousands” of snaps together during practices. Carr continued to sing James’ praises, saying he is one of the smartest, toughest football players he knows.

After the trade of Hudson, the assumption was James would take over the starting position. However, this assumption has never been confirmed or denied until this morning when Derek Carr referred to James as a “new starting center.” Their well-established relationship should work in their favor as they continue to build chemistry before Week 1.

A culture change on defense

Carr continued to praise his teammates as he told reporters how much different the defense seems this year. Carr noted palpable energy in the air as he watched the defense practice, saying it is “fun to watch.” Carr’s praise, however, was not only limited to players.

He also spent time talking about how vital Gus Bradley has been to this defensive culture change. Carr says Bradley has a commanding presence about him where all eyes are always on him. The defense seems excited and committed to bettering themselves this year, a welcome change for the Raiders.

Carr implied numerous times how well-respected Bradley is in this new defense. At one point, he told reporters how his defensive teammates seemed to be all in with Bradley, saying they’re ready to “ride with that guy.” After defensive struggles the last few seasons, everyone is prepared for a significant defensive reboot in the desert, and it appears it may finally be on the horizon.

Building chemistry

As a quarterback, Carr’s most significant difference maker is his chemistry with his receiving core. Carr lit up as he talked about how dedicated his receivers are this year. He said they all were ready to practice during the offseason no matter the time of day, even at 5:45 am. These early morning practices helped him form stronger bonds and stronger relationships with his teammates.

While he does feel like he has strong connections with his receiving core, he also says those relationships will grow as they progress through the season. On top of offseason practices, something that has worked in Carr’s favor while practicing with his receiving core is having actual OTA’s with the rookies this offseason. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, teams could not have in-person workouts last season. This leads Carr to believe this year’s rookies are well ahead of last years, something that will work in everyone’s favor.

The Silver and Black have a lot riding on this upcoming season, and it all starts this week at training camp. Derek Carr left fans with a newfound excitement for this upcoming season as they listened to QB1 and his confidence in his teammates.

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