JDR Quick Hits from Owners' Meetings

Q: Are there any free agents out there or are you done making moves?

Coach Del Rio: "No, I would think we'll remain active in the personnel business throughout the process. I think any opportunities that present themselves where we can make our roster more competitive, deeper, stronger, I think we'll look for opportunities to do that."

Q: Are there any positions in particular you're eyeing?

Coach Del Rio: "I think we really look at our roster and say throughout our roster we can improve ourselves. We need to coach them better. We need to add some talent, make it a little more competitive, but we feel like what we've done throughout this offseason that we have fortified ourselves. We did strengthen ourselves, particularly up the middle of our defense with the D-tackle, and actually with another D-tackle that we're close with coming back, a couple linebackers, a safety. We got stronger up the middle. Getting the center, getting [Rodney] Hudson, helped us a great deal and it weakened a division rival. I feel like we had a good, solid offseason. It wasn't the sexy, get-the-name receiver everyone is clamoring for. That's not what it was, but it was a very effective, methodical approach to going out and filling some needs and addressing some of the issues that we felt we had with our roster."


"We did strengthen ourselves, particularly up the middle of our defense..."


Q: Who are you projecting to be your starting guards?

Coach Del Rio: "The great thing about it is you don't have to project the starting lineups at this time of year. We know Gabe [Jackson] held down the left side and played very well last year as a rookie. At this point, there's going to be competition for the right guard spot."

Q: Growing up in the Oakland area with obvious attachment and fondness for the area, what's your vision for the franchise and for your job as the coach?

Coach Del Rio:"The biggest thing to me is I grew up there when that was a great organization and really it's been a while now. We want to bring the franchise back to greatness. We want to reestablish ourselves as one of the premier franchises in the league. It has a great tradition and we want to live up to that. We feel like we have great fans. We feel like we have real passionate fans. I was at dinner last night with Howie Long. He's a great former Raider…I guess he remains a Raider, but a Hall of Fame Raider. I want guys like that to be real proud of what we're doing."


"We want to reestablish ourselves as one of the premier franchises in the league. It has a great tradition and we want to live up to that."


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Head Coach Jack Del Rio and General Manager Reggie McKenzie make the media rounds at Owners Meetings in Phoenix.

Q: How high do you think [Derek] Carr's game can go in 2015?**

Coach Del Rio: "Well, I think what I'm most excited about is getting in and not making it so much about Derek. I thought it was all about Derek last year. We want to be able to run the ball. We want to be able to play good defense. We want to do the things that are necessary to help us be a good football team. I think as we do some of those things around him, then he has a chance to really flourish. He's a real accurate guy, move the chains for us, take some of those shots down the field, distribute the ball. I think Derek has a huge upside, so we're excited to get to work with him. One thing about Derek, he's a tenacious worker from what I've gathered in the building. Just watching him, he's coming through now working out on his own, doing things on his own, just wants to get started. Of course, we're limited with what we can do because of the CBA, but he's pushing to do everything possible right now. I'm excited about getting my hands on him, but he's a guy that's shown that he's got a real quick stroke; he's accurate, he's bright. He did some of the things that we're going to want to do, that Bill Musgrave brings to us, he did some of those things at Fresno. We're looking forward to getting going with him. I think he's got a big upside."

Q: What do you see in Trent Richardson that the Browns and the Colts didn't see?

Coach Del Rio:"I think they did see it. I think if you go back, he was a pretty high pick and then a pretty significant trade. I think both teams did see talent. I don't think there's any disputing the fact that the young man has talent. What I saw when we brought him in and talked to him was a young man that was hungry to leave that portion of his career behind him and start fresh. My challenge to him was I don't want you to worry about anything other than coming in here and competing your butt off every day. Come in here and be a great teammate. Come in here and find a role on special teams. Come in here and just grind every day with the hunger like you had as a freshman at Alabama, like you had when you went in. He has to compete for everything he gets; he knows that. I laid that out there from the start. So, I really believe that if he can recapture that then he has a chance to maximize that potential and that potential is great. Why worry about what it may turn into? Let's just worry about day-to-day, being a great teammate, being unselfish, working your tail off every day and see where it takes you."


"My challenge to him was I don't want you to worry about anything other than coming in here and competing your butt off every day."


Q: Did you have a relationship with Reggie prior to taking the job with the Raiders? Do you believe your personalities and football philosophies mesh?

Coach Del Rio:"Only as players. We knew each other going way back – I think it was the Japan Bowl or something or a postseason bowl after our college careers. We've known each other a long time. In terms of philosophies, I think the one thing that we both appreciate are big guys. We appreciate big men in the trenches. We believe in having a physical football team and I think it starts with the offensive and defensive lines. I think we both have a healthy respect for what the players go through and what the demands are and how important it is to get good players. I think that's where I'd start. He's a really easy guy to get along with. We communicate or try to communicate daily. It's a process that we're going to work at. Any relationship, you have to work at it, but he's a good guy."

Q: You played 12 years in the league; Charles Woodson has played even longer. How do you view a guy that's going into his 18th year and turn 39?

Coach Del Rio: "I just left the organization in Denver where Peyton [Manning] was the same thing, same guy, in terms of a premium player that's been able to play a long time, at a high level for a long time. You're talking about the same guy – I think they're from the same class – pretty strong group to come out. That's two guys with longevity; it's pretty amazing. Like Peyton, I think it's important for Charles that we understand that we have to be smart about how we work him. We have to be smart about how many snaps he's taken. I think we'll just have to work through that, but we'll try and make sure to take advantage of the things that he can do. He's got terrific instinct. He's always been a very active playmaking kind of guy. We just want to make sure we're doing things that take advantage of some of those skills."

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Q: You have a Pro Bowl fullback with Marcel Reece, but with the type of offense that you guys are talking about, that no huddle, there might not be a need for a fullback. What kind of role do you envision for him possibly?**

Coach Del Rio:"We'll see where that goes. I would say there are good roles for good football players everywhere. I think we'll let [Offensive Coordinator] Bill [Musgrave] and the staff let them go through and start working with our guys. Let's see what our staff can put together to utilize the talent we have and the talent we're bringing in. I wouldn't get too far ahead of the curve on that one."

Q: It seems like you guys have gotten younger at cornerback. What gives you confidence that TJ [Carrie] and DJ [Hayden] and maybe even Keith [McGill] can take over such a heavy workload and responsibility? Do you think that it's a good group there?

Coach Del Rio:"As a staff coming in and everything and evaluating, we felt like that was one of the more talented positions that needed to develop. Certainly staying healthy will be important for DJ. Carrie played well in his role and we feel like that group has a chance to develop beyond where they are. They're four really solid young guys right there that we look forward to working with and helping them play at a higher level."

Q: What leads you to believe that you can turn this franchise around once and for all?

Coach Del Rio:"I guess, faith. I have faith that we understand what it looks like, what it takes, come in and share a vision with our players. We'll attack this thing with great energy every day. We've assembled a strong staff. That's where it starts. We're acquiring talent. Look, every good coach has good players, and you have to have good players. We need to continue to add good players and then build a team that's willing to sacrifice and play together and understand what it looks like to be accountable for each other, play fast and play hard, kind of some old school, basic fundamentals that we're going to stress that are proven and that I believe in. I believe every program I've ever been a part of, I think there's a mindset you have to establish and I think it starts at the top and permeates through the whole organization. We're going to pay attention to details. We've begun that process. We're two months into this process and feel like we've accomplished quite a bit in the first two months and we're just going to keep plodding away methodically, chipping away at what we know needs to be done."


"We'll attack this thing with great energy every day. We've assembled a strong staff. That's where it starts. We're acquiring talent."


Q: Do you feel Raider Nation from around the country? How much do you sort of feel the history of the Raiders?

Coach Del Rio:"You feel it. You definitely feel it. You certainly feel it locally, but you feel it, like you're saying, wherever you go. It travels. It travels well, and I'm not a huge social media person, but my kids are, and they tell me about how tremendous the support is and how tremendous the reach is of the Raider Nation. It's pretty amazing. It's good stuff."

Q: So many of these free agents that have come in have said what a great energy there was in the building when they came on their visits. Is that the first building block to establishing a new culture?

Coach Del Rio:"Absolutely. I took time building the staff because I wanted guys with positive energy, guys that are teachers, guys that believe they can bring out the best in players. We assembled a group that is built that way. We believe we can help guys play at a high level, maybe at a higher level than they ever have. We want to create that positive energy where we know we can if we're all together and all on board. We can make things happen. That's been day one, and that starts with me bringing that energy. Ken Norton, and all of us bring that energy every day."


"We believe we can help guys play at a high level, maybe at a higher level than they ever have."


Q: What drew you in on Curtis Lofton?

Coach Del Rio:"Having a chance to get a guy that has played at a high level, he's been an experienced middle linebacker. He's played a lot of snaps in the league. He brings some of that experience and play-making ability. He's a guy that can come in and give us that veteran presence, understanding what we can get done. We felt like it was an opportunity for a good match there. It was a nice opportunity for us to improve and we feel like we did."

Q: What do you like most about this draft class?

Coach Del Rio:"I like that we get an opportunity to get some of these players and add them to our team. I think right now it's deeper in some areas than others. Certainly, it's an opportunity this time of year to add some young players to your roster. When you go through free agency like we do, you're able to fill some definite holes and go for need right there. Then, when you get to the draft, you like to get value. You like to get some of the better players coming out of the draft."

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