QB Derek Carr on Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger: "He lives in the pocket"

Quarterback Derek Carr speaks with the media on Wednesday as the Raiders prepare to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers

Q: What do you know about C.J. Anderson?

Carr: “CJ is a great guy. Obviously, I competed against him. I know that his mom is a Raider fan, so shout out to mama for her son coming to play for the good guys. Nah, but he’s a great guy. I saw him earlier this morning. He’s a guy that obviously gets here early and is trying to figure things out, trying to learn protections and all those kind of things. Running, I guess, is easy for those guys. It’s the pass game and figuring out those things. I love him and I’m glad that we have him. He’s a good football player.”

Q: In the past, at the end of a tough year the mood in the locker room can be negative. It doesn’t seem to be the case this year. What’s been the key to fostering positivity, humor, or whatever it is, to keep going?

Carr: “You and I both know. We’ve both been a part of that. I’ve seen times early on in my career where I’m like, ‘Why is everybody so sad? We are playing in the NFL.’ Obviously, we are not doing the things we want to do. I think the thing with this team is, we understand now the vision. We understand we are laying the foundation. We understand that whatever was here before, it’s gone. We had to start it over and the way we wanted to start it over, we said, this is going to be a positive place. It’s going to be a fun place to work and I’ve been a part of times where it’s not fun to go to work, to be honest with you. That just makes it miserable for everybody. Again, I think I said it after the game, you play worse when that’s the kind of atmosphere. I think our guys have really grabbed a hold of that, especially the young guys. I’ve been trying to instill that these times don’t last. These tough times, it doesn’t last. Obviously, it’s tough and it’s hard. Trust me, if you continue to do right, you see it around the league with different teams. Teams that flip one year after the other. If you just continue to do right it will change. That’s the thing that, honestly, we have been trying to instill.”

Q: When you are in meeting rooms, are you still seeing coach Gruden’s personality come out?

Carr: “Yes, he has not changed one bit. I think that’s why our team respects him so much. You hear veteran guys say all the time they love playing for him. We love being around him. We love meeting. He runs every offensive meeting. Just his voice, his jokes, his love for football. It never gets old. I’m laughing because I think about three things that he said today that had the room dying laughing, but at the same time he gets his point across and we try and go out there and execute it. He has not changed since I met him at the QB camp. He hasn’t changed since April. He hasn’t changed since the season hasn’t gone how he’s wanted.”

Q: What do you see from Big Ben [Roethlisberger] when you watch him?

Carr: “I think Ben is someone that, he’s not fast, but people don’t always talk about him extending plays. The way he can extend plays. He doesn’t do it all the time outside the pocket, even though he can. You see like defensive lineman hanging on with two hands and his such a big guy , obviously I’m not 6-5 and whatever he is, 200-and-something [pounds]. You see those things and you respect it because that’s the way he’s got to play. He’s not going to take off and run for 40 yards. He can but he doesn’t do it that much. At the same time, he lives in the pocket and he can extend. The plays that he creates, that aren’t designed, are really cool. They are really fun to watch and that’s why the guy has got two rings. He’s been a really good pro at it.”

Q: Coach Gruden told us earlier this week that he has a lot of plays for Martavis [Bryant] that are going stale in his office. How much do you think is still unlocked potential?

Carr: “Oh my goodness. There is a lot of potential there. Potential is a tough word in the football business. He definitely has potential, he has something that a lot of people don’t have. I think we’ve all seen that, especially in camp. Hitting him on some deep balls, hitting him on some big explosive plays. Even in games that we have played together, hitting on some big plays. There is so much there that you just want to untap and hopefully we’ll get to do that for a lot of years together.”

Q: You had the play the other day where you threw it out of bounds and it was the right play to make because you had second down coming up. Then Coach Gruden tells us Monday that he thinks you could have made that throw. Is he being serious or is he just messing with you?

Carr: “(laughter) I think he’s just messing with me. Now, that’s the other funny thing, he thinks I can make every throw, even the throws that I’m trying to make myself not throw. He’s like, ‘that’s a good decision, but I think you could have made…’ I’m like, ‘stop, don’t do that to me.´(laughter) He likes to mess with me in that way for sure.”

Q: Do you feel like you’re playing the best football you have ever played?

Carr: “I definitely do. Look, the season hasn’t gone how we’ve wanted. We all know that. But, there’s no denying when Coach Gruden got here, just learning from him and [offensive coordinator Greg Olson] Oly and [quarterbacks coach Brian Callahan] Cally, that I feel like a better football player. Anybody can say whatever they want, we can turn the film on and go deep into that and see, man this is what they’ve taught me, these are the things that I’m doing better, all that kind of stuff. I’m just thankful to them, I really am because since they got there, it’s been a learning process. Coach Gruden throws a lot at his quarterbacks and it’s been fun. We’re getting to that place where we’re getting on the same page, we’re communicating. That doesn’t mean that it’s always going to be perfect and just continue to have crazy things happen, but what it does mean is that we’re going to be able to move the ball, we’re going to be efficient, we’re going to be really good together. That right there is exciting to me.”

Q: Everybody back in training camp was telling saying how you could stand up and recite all of these play calls. It’s one thing to do that and another thing to actually apply it.

Carr: “Absolutely. I know a lot of people, we all can think of some, that can stand out there and talk about what the right thing to do is, but to go out there and do it is a lot harder. Trust me, it was not easy, taking all of that information, but the reason he did it is because he wanted to throw everything up on the wall and see what stuck. I tried to make everything stick. There was a couple checks in the past couple weeks that we’ve made that were things we talked about in April. We’ll do it and he’ll just come off to the side and give me a high five, but the more time that we can have together, it’s going to make it easier to do. At first, it was a process and no one likes that word, especially in sports, but it was and it is. Hopefully we can just continue to grow that relationship because it’s a lot of fun.”

Q: How are you and Jared Cook continuing to grow and still have a great connection?

Carr: “Well, I think everyone can continue to grow. Same thing when [Michael Crabtree] Crab got here, when [Amari Cooper] first got here. We’re both willing to work at it, we’re going to get things done. That’s the thing about ‘Cookie’, he’s been relentless. His film study and his communication with me and it gives me confidence on big plays or third downs, got-to-have-it situations or anything like that where, if we get the look or the matchup or the coverage to check a play to him or go to him verses tight coverage even, there’s been times where it gets a little aggressive to Cook but I just trust him that much. Him and I, we’ve had a great relationship since he got here and we just continue to grow because it’s a lot of fun. To have someone like that that just loves to work, to have somebody that just wants to work his tail off and execute on the field and loves playing football, loves the games, how does a quarterback not like that?”

Q: In what ways have you improved on offense since Coach Gruden has arrived?

Carr: “Oh my goodness, the way that they’ve taught me things just inside the pocket, just little drills and things like that that we’ve done. And again, that just comes with even more years of training. They’re not completely different drills that I’ve done before, but just another voice, another way. The way that we read certain things, the way that he wants my eyes to start, just all these little things that have led to us being able to complete a lot of balls, you know? I think I’ve said it before, I’ve never completed this many balls in games in my life. I thought college was a lot of fun, we threw a lot of bubble screens, but we’re throwing real routes. We’re throwing a lot of real concepts and down the field and things like this, and if it’s not there, check down and seeing the back get eight or nine. It’s been a lot of fun just learning that. I feel like I have so much farther to go. So, it’s been fun to see what we’ve been able to do, but hopefully this week and just continuing on that I continue to grow. I know I won’t stop working at it, that’s for sure.”

Q: I saw you and David Carr are going to break down film for the fans at the event you are holding at Valley Children’s hospital?

Carr: “Yeah, March 2nd I believe it is. We’re going to do that, obviously to help Valley Children’s and things like that. But, it’s just a fun way, instead of just standing there and shaking hands and kissing babies, we get to talk football too. So, that’s always fun.”

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