Raiders new interim head coach, Tony Sparano, has had a little over a week to ease into his new position. A big part of that transition is getting across to the players now in his charge just what he expects from them. That starts with quarterback.
Derek Carr has been the man behind center for the Raiders this season. As a rookie, he has said his leadership consists mostly of just performing his quarterback duties. He has also gone through the expected growing pains most rookie quarterbacks experience. But with former head coach Dennis Allen out and the first four games ‘buried' and forgotten, Sparano needs the Carr's training wheels to come off post haste.
"I had a good conversation with him about that actually," Sparano said of Carr's duties as a leader. "I said to him, ‘This is your football team, you're the quarterback. We don't have time for you to be a rookie right now. This team needs you to step up and be that leader. Don't sit around and wait to do that.' Derek's DNA, he wants to go out there and do that, he wants to be the leader. So, just by the way he goes about his business in the classroom and out on the field and how hard he works. We had a really good conversation and he knows that he has to wear that hat. He knows that comes with the position and he's excited about that."
Carr measures the quality of his performance by whether the team wins games. And on a team that has yet to win a game, that means he has not been pleased with himself thus far. There have been a couple times when that frustration has boiled over on the field and we've seen the firey competitor under the surface of that humble, fresh faced demeanor. It's something of which this team needs to see more.
"It's just something where at first it was a sensitive situation that I was stepping into," said Carr. "Now, we're kind of past that. Now, it is my team. It's what he said, those are his words ‘it is your team.' We are past all that . . . now I don't have to hold back, I guess. You don't want to step on anybody's toes. You want to be a great teammate. All of those things, but now it's kind of like here are the keys, now take it and let's go. There's no real easing into it anymore. We've already done that for the first four games. Now it's, ‘you're our guy, let's roll. Lead them and let's go do this thing.'"
Adding a bit of uncertainty into the mix is the ankle and knee sprain Carr suffered week four against the Dolphins. He has been officially limited in practice, though continues to practice with the first team offense and indications are that his injury is not slowing him down.
Carr says he is feeling better and expects to play Sunday against the Chargers. He even said he wouldn't be wearing a brace on his knee.
"It's going to take a lot for me not to be out there," said Carr. "In my head, I was going to play no matter how it felt when I woke up, somehow I am going to get ready to play in the game."
Carr wants to answer the challenge laid down by Sparano and as a quarterback, the only way to really do that is from the huddle