The final preseason game can be nerve wracking for young NFL players. Especially for those low round and undrafted rookies trying to make an early impression. Even for those drafted higher, it can be cause for a lot of uneasiness.
In 2014, the Raiders used their second round pick on Derek Carr. Usually you would figure that means a team has a player in their plans, but Carr wasn’t so sure about that.
He had made his first start in the team’s final preseason game that year against the Seattle Seahawks, throwing for three touchdowns on 11 of 13 passes with a near perfect 152.1 passer rating.
Even still, Matt Schaub had started the first three preseason games and appeared to be in line to be the team’s starter come the regular season. So, Carr had no reason to think his performance against reserves in the final preseason game would change that. Three days later, he got a call that would change his fate. Just not in the way he thought.
“OK, so I went to church on Sunday morning and I checked my phone when I got out and coach [Greg] Olson had texted me,” said Carr. “He said, ‘Hey, Coach [Dennis] Allen wants to see you.’ Some quarterbacks had gotten hurt in the preseason so I thought, ‘Oh man, they traded me.’ I promise when I drove here I thought I was traded, I really thought that. I thought, ‘I played well, somebody wanted me,’ and then I showed up, he told me that day that I was going to be the starter, asked me if I was ready and I said, ‘Yeah I’m ready.’
“The next day, I walk in to watch film and [Matt] Schaub is sitting there and he shakes my hand and said ‘Congratulations’.”
Carr hasn’t looked back since. He had started every game to begin his career — a string of 47 straight — up until the last game of last season after he broke his ankle, causing him to miss the season finale in Denver and Wild Card playoff game in Houston.
And back in June he became the highest paid player in NFL history. That is, until yesterday, when Matt Stafford got his new deal. I’d say he’s probably a bit more secure of his place in the Raiders’ plans now.