The Raiders made arguably their biggest splash of the free agent period thus far when they signed former Chicago Bears linebacker, Nick Roach. He has played outside linebacker for much of his career but had the chance to step in at middle linebacker last season for the Bears.
I got on a conference call with the new Raider. Here is what he had to say:
How quickly did this come about? You entertain any other offers?
"It was really just the Raiders and the Bears, obviously, who it came down to. I came out on the visit, seeing the different positions, that kind of gage, getting the Bears back and forth, taking all things into consideration, it just seemed like Oakland was an opportunity I couldn't pass up."
They tell you you'd be playing middle linebacker?
"They kinda just said that they see me being able to do a lot of things that they want to do. Not specifically middle, I'm not sure if that'll be the case but I think they kind just wanted to get me in and see what the best fit is for me, for everybody that they bring in."
What do you like about playing middle linebacker?
"The things I like about it is you're on the field a lot, you're in the middle of everything, you kind of can get to a lot of plays that on the outside you can't get all the way across the field to get to, so just being in the mix, I enjoy that. I enjoy being in the game instead of having to know the situation, all the adjustments that go along with it so just the whole thing."
How much do you think your versatility helped your stock?
"You don't really even know yourself you can do something until you have a chance to really do it, so it was big for me being able to get the film up there and for just the confidence and feeling like versatility is really worth something."
What is it about the opportunity to play for the Raiders that intrigued you?
"It's just exciting. The whole culture of the organization. In my mind, it's on the upward so being able to come in and hopefully add to that is something to look forward to."
How much has playing with guys like Urlacher and Briggs helped you?
"It's been great. Those guys are friends of mine and more importantly they're great examples of just how to be a pro, how to be successful at the highest level. I feel like being behind them and next to them over the last few years has really helped to watch their leadership by example and what it looks like."
Raiders free agents signings have all been of the type of hard working, under the radar, drama free types. Is that you?
"Yeah, I think so. I think there's a lot of guys like that. Like those other guys that fly under the radar because you won't make it for long in the NFL if you don't really love it just because you won't have the motivation to do all the things that it takes. It's just exciting to be able to get in and get to learn everything and go from there."
Any concern of Raiders being in rebuilding mode?
"Honestly that didn't really enter my mind. I guess that's an opinion that some people might have but my concern was getting a chance to meet the coaches and just kind of see where they saw me fitting in and if the situation seemed like it was the best for me and my family."
Are you the kind of guy who comes in with enthusiasm and takes over as a leader or just leads by example?
"I wouldn't necessarily describe myself as a huge rah, rah guy or anything. I think I do lead by example, let the daily things like taking care of your body and making sure to study the opponent, all that type of stuff. I think if I just continue to do that all that stuff translates to the field as a good example."
How did you earn the Ed Block courage award and what does it mean to you?
"What it means to me is you're able to earn the respect of your teammates in the locker room. So, obviously that's a huge honor to be able to get an award that's voted on strictly by the guys that you play with. So, I'm excited to go out there tomorrow and spend a couple of days in my community, just seeing what the whole award it really about in person."
Have you gotten the feeling like your receiving that award means something to the Raiders?
"Honestly, I'm not sure. I'm sure it probably was, I guess you could call it a quote/unquote ‘resume builder' type thing so it's always good to have that, it says you're respected by your team mates. I'm sure that might have been a consideration."
When you came into the league as an undrafted free agent, were you take it game by game or did you feel like you deserved to be in the league and that's that?
"For me it was just about whatever opportunity was in front of me, I was going to take advantage of it. I was ecstatic when I made the practice squad in San Diego. I didn't really feel like I was slighted, or deserved anything more than the opportunity that was presented at that time. It's just the daily things that have led up to this point where I was able to get a chance to play and produce a little bit."
You see a scheme with the Raiders that might let you spread your wings a little bit?
"I'm not sure yet. We haven't had a lot of time to go that in depth on it. It is a little bit different being able just to use a little bit more versatility in terms of just football playing ability. But I think that in terms of Chicago, I felt that scheme pretty well too. But just to say I can do anything more or less, I'm not sure yet."