NFL

Raiders' Derek Carr finally playing 'free': 'Once I got away from trying to impress everybody else… that's when I've played my best'

Entering his eighth NFL season and fourth under Jon Gruden, Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr finally feels comfortable and confident in leading an offense.

“I remember the night before every practice, I’d be stressed out,” the quarterback said of the early parts of his career, via the team’s official website. “In my head, I’m just hard on myself. I’m thinking about everything like, ‘I got to do that right.’ I’m checking my notes like, ‘I got to do that. I wrote this down, got to fix that.’

“Now, it’s just so free.”

The three-time Pro Bowl quarterback said that the ability to block out the noise and not sweat the critics would allow him to play looser.

“Once I got away from trying to impress everybody else, I got comfortable with being me, and honestly, that’s when I’ve played my best,” he said.

Carr is coming off a solid season for the 8-8 Raiders, crossing the 4,000-yard mark for the third straight year under Gruden and compiling a 27-19 TD-INT ratio. He also generated a career-best 101.4 passer rating.

There is promise in Vegas, with a young receiver corps that has impressed this offseason, led by second-year players Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards. In addition, the backfield with Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake has the chance to be dynamite.

Carr noted that the diverse skillsets of his receivers should help open up the offense in 2021.

“We’re getting different guys different looks and, more for me, it builds trust, but for the evaluators [it’s] to see what we have,” Carr said. “It allows me to freely play quarterback. It’s that amount of versatility, but they’re all unselfish.”

After not making the playoff in four straight seasons, the pressure for the Raiders is building, particularly on Carr and Gruden. It’s good the QB isn’t feeling the heat in Vegas yet. We’ll see if he keeps that free mentality if early losses mount and questions about his future with the club grow louder.

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