This week, Derek Carr addressed the media for the first time as the starting quarterback of the Oakland Raiders. This is uncharted territory for the team, which has not started a rookie quarterback in Week 1 since the 1970 merger. However, Carr doesn't seem overwhelmed by the job.
"To be honest, I was just excited," said Carr when asked if he was taken by surprise at being named starter. "I was really focused on learning the offense the best that I could so that way, when I got on the field, whenever that time was, I could help this team win. Because that's all I care about, is the Raiders winning."
Carr also credits Matt Schaub with helping him prepare to be at his best, while insisting there are no hard feelings between the two.
"Oh, he's been great, nothing has changed. We were sitting there, as soon as I found out, the next morning I saw him walking into the quarterback room and he said, 'Hey, congrats man.' He shook my hand and I just started asking how he's doing. How's the family? How's everything? In fact, I think he's probably helped more because we're game-planning this week, reminding me of things during meetings or during practice or when we get one-on-one time, just whenever around the facility, he's really just been, 'Hey don't forget, when they do this remember this.' He's been great."
The new rookie starter also has an advantage that only two other current NFL quarterbacks have, which is an older brother who was an NFL starter and a first overall pick. Eli Manning and Jordan Palmer also can lay claim to that distinction. The younger Carr brother was asked about his brother's reaction to his new position.
"(David) was fired up. He was excited for me. The whole family was excited, obviously, but at the same time it's just football. It was an excitement, 'Hey, congrats', and then we went about our lives. In our family, football is not everything. So it was cool, it's a wonderful opportunity, but that was it."
That level of maturity is refreshing for this franchise which has had its share of hotheads, knuckleheads, and meatheads at quarterback through the years.
When asked about his maturity, Carr replied, "It doesn't matter if I go out and throw the three touchdowns against Seattle or if I throw eight picks, I'm going to be the same person. Though obviously as a competitor, I'm going to be mad, but I'm going to be the same person because football is never going to define who I am."
The first order of business for Carr is facing the New York Jets and Rex Ryan's creative defensive schemes.
"He's got a great blitz package. He's got, obviously, a lot of different looks that he'll show. Me being a rookie, he's probably going to want to show them all. I go in and expect, as much as I can, I expect everything. Then if something doesn't happen, then I'll be surprised. That's how I have to prepare. I have to prepare for everything, even maybe for something he hasn't shown but could show.
"Obviously I reach out to anyone who can help me. I called my brother because he's played them seven times. I called him and said, 'Hey, let's talk Jets. You were there, you've seen them.' So we talked. I picked his brain, took notes and that was it. Now I went about my business for the rest of the week, picked Schaub's brain, picked the coaches' brain, so I expect a lot."
Here we see the advantage Derek has above all other rookies in the league this year. He can call up his brother and ask him about just about any team in the league and David Carr will give him all the information he can. Derek seems to be a very cerebral guy, and I'd bet money that the time he spends on football with his family is a big part of the reason why.
The Carr family does live in southern California and Derek grew up with two members of his family in the NFL, one who spent a short time with the Raiders.
"I was so excited, because growing up my uncle [Lon Boyett] was a Raider. I was so excited to be the quarterback, but in the end I've got to go out and work. I can't just, like [Greg Olson] says, 'Don't let this moment be your best moment as an NFL player.' Just being told you're the starting quarterback and everything else is downhill after that. We want to make more great moments, but it was definitely a great thing. It definitely was."
Derek Carr is a humble guy but has a passion for the game and for his teammates. He may have some struggles early on like most rookies do (remember Peyton Manning's rookie campaign?), but he's got the makings being the right choice to be the Raiders quarterback of the present and future.