ALAMEDA -- Derek Carr has reached out to several members of the 2014 draft class with one simple message: It’s time to lead.
The Raiders rookie quarterback has already taken that responsibility on, especially after interim head coach Tony Sparano told him to. He’s also forming a leadership council of sorts, one that can guide this team toward a better future. Veterans normally assume that role but a youth movement is worth a shot, especially after an 0-6 start. After all, the young guys have longer-term contracts. They're the ones who stick.
“I’ve actually gotten together with a group of them and I plan on getting together with all of them and really saying, ‘Hey, they drafted us here for a reason and we’ve got to stick together and keep the positive attitude going,’ because this thing is eventually going to turn around,” Carr said. “Hopefully, it’s this week, hopefully it’s sooner than later, but I tell them all the time, ‘Hey we’re going to be a part of it, we’re going to be a part of the turnaround, so let’s keep that positive attitude. Let’s keep that hard work going and be good examples.’”
The 2014 draft class is a good place to start. Linebacker Khalil Mack, Carr, guard Gabe Jackson and nose tackle Justin Ellis -- four of the first five picks -- start and already rank among the Raiders' best. Seventh-round pick T.J. Carrie is the No. 3 cornerback and return man.
While these players are young, they carry enough street cred to have their voices heard.
“Even though we are rookies, we are playing a lot and some of us are in leadership-type positions, so we do need to keep that positive mindset because it’s so easy right now to be down. That’s the easy thing to do. It’s easy to go home and feel upset and sad but the hard thing to do is to keep your head down and keep working and come to work with a positive attitude and energy. That’s what I try to bring and that’s what I try to tell those guys as well.”