Q: Have you ever been on a team with so many new faces?
Carter: Many times. Many times. 13 years in this business just comes to fine line where the average coach’s career is two years within an organization. Coaches are rolling, players are rolling, this is nothing new to me. But the experience itself is always the same – you have 32 teams with the same goal, the same mindset, the same mentality in general to go out there and be the best. It starts right now.
Q: So many of the players have changed from the defensive side of the ball. How different is it from your perspective?
Carter: I’ll tell you, it’s always different, but I think the most important thing is despite whoever you’re lined up with, the most important thing is that we have a common goal to be a great defense, to be a dominant defense. That’s something that, unfortunately, this organization has lacked over the years. There’s been times of consistency and times they haven’t been consistent, inconsistent, so I think it’s important that for 16 games, that we go out there and be the best and get it done.
Q: How much time does it take for a defense to gel?
Carter: I think it’s based on the individual and it’s based upon the group. How bad do you want it? What are your goals? I just think in general, yes there’s been some changes within the defensive organization, however, the players that are here, they’re here for a reason. And so what we’ve done is we’ve discussed it and know that enough is enough. We’ve got to go out and the 11 guys that are lined up each and every day, we take it upon ourselves to win. That’s important. That mentality is shared through vets like myself or the younger guys that came in.
Q: So are you and Charles [Woodson] just kind of taking over the locker room at this point or trying to?
Carter: I’m not sure it’s trying to take over the locker room, I just think when you have experience like myself and Charles, the younger guys, they do listen. They want to have the same experiences as we had. As vets, like ourselves, we want guys to play six, seven, eight-plus years. The average career for an NFL player is three years. For me to play this long as well as Charles also, it’s just a testament that the strong will survive. So when we talk to the younger guys, we let them know, ‘Hey, you can have this dream as long as you want it, but it’s up to you to do the right thing.’”
Q: Did you have any opportunities with other teams or was your mind set on coming back here?
Carter: You know what? Good question. During the off-season, it was just like a little bit of a waiting game. I did end up talking to the Raiders organization. They said they were still interested in me so I just kept on training and had the faith that everything would work out. Here I am now.
Q: The linebacker position last year was in flux. There was a lot of changes, especially middle. It looks like they’re sticking Nick [Roach] in there and letting him run with it. What can that do? How much will that help your defense just having that one guy in there constantly and really no changes?
Carter: Phil [Wheeler] was a great player. Some people didn’t realize that from what I had heard he was mostly an outside linebacker and probably a WILL linebacker. When you stick a person like Phil in a position like MIKE linebacker, there’s a lot of responsibilities that he’s unfamiliar with. But I applaud him for doing the best he could and being accountable and working hard because he made plays. As you know, changes were made and Nick is here. Nick is, in itself, a true MIKE linebacker. I’ve had experiences where when I was in Washington and we brought London Fletcher in, the linebacker in a similar situation. He was a SAM linebacker and they put him at MIKE. I’ll tell you, the MIKE position is probably one of the key elements to having a good defense. He gets the communication to everyone on the ball, the defensive linemen, the cornerbacks, the safeties. If you don’t have that, you’re not going to be successful. So Nick has been very good in learning the scheme. We always talk to him and the lines of communication have always been open.
Q: I know that once you got worked into the mix last year, you started to assert yourself as a leader. I’ve seen veterans come in here that have been established for a long time and that first year they’re hesitant to really take over. How unique is it for a guy like Nick to come in and really try to establish himself as one of the leaders?
Carter: It’s great. It goes to show how he wants to be known as. Like I said, the MIKE linebacker is definitely the engine of the defense, so for him to be vocal is always important. It’s very vital because we need that on as well as off the field.
Q: What are [defensive coordinator Jason] Tarver’s plans for you this year? A third down guy?
Carter: That’ll be up to Tarver, but for myself, my leg is 100 percent better. I knew towards last year, towards the end of the season, I was back to full form. Leg injury, whether it’s a knee or a quad, it takes about a good year to come back. But I appreciate the Raiders organization for giving me that chance because they knew I had a lot left in the tank. It just took some time. But in the end, I showed what I can do. Talked to the coaches said, ‘You still got it. You still come off the ball. You run hard, technique.’ That’s just something that I’ve thrived off of for so many years, so whatever coaches want, that’s what I’ll do. I’m just happy to be back and want to create something special for this Raiders organization.