Arriving along with the other Raiders veterans today was second year cornerback, T.J. Carrie. As he gets ready to begin his second training camp, he is fully aware of the great expectations being placed upon him.
As a rookie seventh round pick last year, the Raiders coaches initially figured his main contributions would come on special teams as a return man. But it soon became apparent the local talent would make an major impact on the defense as well.
Fast forward to this offseason and the Raiders made very little effort to upgrade the cornerback position. Reggie McKenzie said the team would be looking to the young guys to carry the cornerback unit, focusing primarily on Carrie along with third year corner D.J. Hayden and 2014 fourth round pick, Keith McGill.
"Those rookies coming into their second year and third year and the expectations building up where they're more responsible and the coaches are putting a lot more trust into them," said Carrie. "That's why you draft. You draft to build and bring in younger talent who can fortunately carry the role down the road. So, the expectation for them is just as high as the veterans."
Few seventh round picks head into their second season as an expected starter. Carrie feels the pressure that comes with those raised expectations. And he said it has changed his mind set and preparation headed into his second training camp.
"It definitely changes when are looked at as a starter," said Carrie. "The mistakes and errors have to be limited to pretty much none. Last year as a rookie they're willing to give you those mistakes and opportunities to fail because you're learning, getting acclimated to the NFL and to the season and the different aspects of what you have to do. But coming into the next and you're projected to be a starter they expect more of a higher level form you as an athlete, so the pressure is definitely building higher. That's something that we live to play this game for is to be in the pressure. All pressure is good pressure."
The new coaching staff has been applying a greater level of pressure to the entire team. As Carrie describes it, there seems to be an almost boot vibe around the team these days.
"Energy. A lot of energy from getting breakfast in the morning, the energy is always there and it's fun when you have that electric fire in a group of staff who is willing to definitely put it all on the line each and every moment in time frame when you walk into that building. So, you feed off of that energy. Them yelling and screaming at you at breakfast is something that you definitely get used to and accustomed to.
"We might have ten minutes left of breakfast to eat and they're coming in there giving us three minutes left. So, they're yelling ‘You had all morning to eat breakfast! It's time to work!' so just little antics like that is something you enjoy and have fun and you wake up and you're excited to go to work each and every day."
This is a young team overall and no position has more youth than the cornerbacks. The coaches are full of former players and ‘teachers' as Jack Del Rio has referred to them. For the DB's it's Marcus Robertson and Rod Woodson. They apply the pressure and Carrie and company must respond to answer the concerns with the youth at the cornerback position.