ALAMEDA -– Josh Harper and Derek Carr go way back. Farther than most Raiders, anyway. The receiver/quarterback tandem had some good times at Fresno State, and will team up again in Oakland.
Harper signed on as an undrafted free agent, joining the squad run by a starting quarterback he knows well. Carr and Harper have spoken daily over the last week to help get Harper ready for the offseason program.
“I have him quiz me. What do I do on this play, what do I do on that play?” Harper said. “We talk about things of that nature.”
That should help Harper work his way up from the bottom. Undrafted free agents don’t have much room for error, and fight an uphill battle trying to make the 53-man roster.
Harper was considered a draftable commodity by many, but slipped through the draft unselected. He has a good a shot as anyone, especially working with a quarterback with whom he already has chemistry.
Harper had options after the draft, but the Raiders provided the best fit.
“It helped that Derek was here,” Harper said. “I feel like the Raiders organization is headed into the right direction. Why not try to be a part of something that’s going to be special down the road? It was a whole little packaged deal: the organization, Derek being here because I know he’s going to help me as much as I can, learning the playbook.”
The connections don’t start and stop with Carr. Harper’s sister Qiava is the vice president of premium seating for the Raiders. Harper is a San Jose native who grew up in Stockton. He feels right at home in Silver and Black.
Having Carr around will certainly help.
“He’s one of Derek [Carr]’s buddies,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “Derek was happy about that. (laughing) We did not discuss that with him [Carr] prior to getting him here, but I know he was happy to have him join us. He’s a guy that has some return ability, that understands a little bit how to create separation and get open. He has good hands. We’re glad to have him in the camp and get started with him.”
Harper will have to beat out Kenbrell Thompkins or Brice Butler for a crack at the 53-man roster, which is no easy task. Harper has a path to follow. Rod Streater was an undrafted free agent who worked his way onto the roster in 2012 and has been a steady producer when healthy.
Harper is up for the challenge of earning a role on the team -– Del Rio said he could be a return man -– with steady performance over the next few months.
“I would say you have to show up every day,” Harper said. “You have to give them a reason to allow you do have a spot on this team. Nothing’s going to be given to you but that’s why you have to show up and make plays.”