Derek Carr returned to the field for Oakland Raiders offseason workouts on Monday and his mentality is exactly where it should be.
For much of the regular season, expectations for the Oakland Raiders were higher than they’d been in a decade. With an AFC West title in their reach and possible playoff success looming, the optimism about what was to come to end the 2016 season was prevalent. And then it wasn’t.
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All of the hope and optimism of the season disappeared in an instant as quarterback Derek Carr went down with a leg injury, later revealed to be a broken fibula. The injury ended his 2016 season, putting Matt McGloin and Connor Cook at the helm to finish the season. Unsurprisingly, they were ousted in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs by the Houston Texans.
Now much of the focus this offseason will be on getting back to the heights they reached one year ago. Integral to that plight will undoubtedly be the health and performance of Carr. Everything to this point has been promising regarding his health, and that continued on Monday. With the Raiders beginning offseason workouts on Monday, Carr was on the field and fully participating.
In terms of his physical recovery from the injury, that he’s already back on the field is huge. At this rate, he shouldn’t miss any offseason reps and should continue to improve. However, his return for offseason workouts offered an even more important point for the Raiders.
“I’ve broken a lot of things, I’ve torn a lot of muscles, I’ve torn a lot of ligaments; because this one happened at such a dramatic time, because it happened to where I couldn’t play the next couple of games, it’s kind of bigger than it was,” Carr explained. “It wasn’t hard for me to take that boot off, and take my first step, if that helps. For me, the mental side is easy to defeat, because it’s me versus me, and that’s going to be a win every time.”
One of the often overlooked aspects of any serious injury is the mental effects of it. Fans, specifically, underestimate the notion of a player not trusting the affected area as much upon their return. It affects everything that they used to be able to do and the mental hurdle can be the hardest to clear.
However, it seems pretty apparent that’s not the case when it comes to Carr. Of course, any player is going to come off as confident in that situation. But when he talks about a “me versus me” battle, you believe what he has to say about it. Everything he’s done to this point with the Raiders has been oozing with dignified and warranted confidence in his abilities. This is another example of that — and we saw the success that led the team to in 2016.
That type of confidence and unaffected mental state is crucial for Carr and the Raiders heading into 2017. By most accounts, they’re one of the favorites to contend for a Super Bowl next year. If Carr were to return and not be mentally engaged, though, that’s not even remotely in play. With the mentality he displays in those comments, though, it’s clearly not an issue.
Whether or not Carr is an MVP candidate once again is impossible to know. Safe bets would say that he will be, but speaking in certainties in April is a sure-fire way to look foolish later on. With that said, the Raiders’ success in the 2017 season is directly tied to what their leader does for them both in terms of play and as a leader.
All signs in April point to him being ready to bear that load and do so with great poise and effectiveness. It may have been a bitter end to 2016 for the Raiders, but don’t let that taste linger heading into 2017.