OL Andre Gurode spoke to reporters after his first practice as a Raider. Photo by Tony Gonzales.
Q: So you didn't play in any games last year. Did you plan on coming back or did the Raiders reach out to you and say "hey, do you want to give it a go again?"
Andre Gurode: No. I just want to say that I was planning on playing the whole time. I got to the Chicago Bears organization last year, later in the season. I practiced, was in shape, was ready to get in the game and then had some injuries. Unfortunately I was not able to get on the field. Through the offseason, I was being diligent, staying in shape, working out, going to church quite frequently because your faith gets tested. Just stayed ready, had faith that the call was going to come, and it did.
Q: So basically at this point in your career, you just want to keep playing whatever role the team puts you in?
Gurode: I'm here to play any role the team puts me in, but I'm also here to compete. I think I can add a lot of value and a lot of leadership to the team. I'm not just a guy who wants to come in here and occupy a spot. I want to come in and compete and make my presence known, and whatever way they need me I am here.
Q: So you're confident that you've got a lot left?
Gurode: Oh I'm not a guy who just signs on, I've got plenty left in the tank. I actually feel better now than I did three years ago, which is crazy.
Q: Starting wise?
Gurode: Yeah. I can't understand it. I mean I guess when you get time to rest and your body gets a chance to heal you never know what your going to play.
Q: Can you break down for us how many games you played at guard? Was that just with the Ravens?
Gurode: When I first got to the league, I was playing center. Half way through my first year I moved to guard. My second and third year I played guard. I moved back to center half way through my fourth year, and five, six, seven and eight and nine I've played center. With the Ravens I played right guard, left guard, and center.
Q: How do you feel like that versatility really helps you make a team, and contribute for a team? Do you think the versatility helps?
Gurode: I think it helps a lot. I think you have to be able to know what everybody has to do at all times. That's how Coach Sparano teaches offensive linemen. You have to know what the other guys are doing. So if you know where everyone is supposed to be on the field at all times you make yourself a better player.
Q: Does Sparano coming in here have anything… How much does that have to do with you coming to the Raiders?
Gurode: I really don't know. I just know that they called me and I found out after they called me that he was the offensive line coach. With Coach Sparano coaching so hard I definitely didn't want to have a workout that disappointed him so it probably made it harder.
Q: What did the Raiders say when they signed you? Did they say we want you to go out there and we will see where things fall? Or did they say we think that you are going to be at left guard? Right guard?
Gurode: You know what, they made me no promises. They said that it was open competition and I had to compete and make the team. That's what I plan on doing.
Q: For any particular position? Or they just say for somewhere?
Gurode: For no particular position.
Q: We've seen you out there. You were working at center and at left guard. Are those the only two places so far that you've been working?
Gurode: No, I actually worked some right guard, too. I worked at all three interior line positions today.
Q: You mostly worked on the left side. Is it harder to work on the right side?
Gurode: I guess it's easier to work on the right side because I'm right handed. For a person who is right handed, you tell that person today you write with your left hand. You have to get used to it for a while, but once you start working at it, it starts to feel natural to you.
Q: So you're going to provide versatility for the Raiders on all the interior positions?
Gurode: I'm just trying to learn all the positions, and actually I'm just trying to learn offense first.
Q: You said you feel better now than three years ago. Is that because your body has been able to heal? What was happening three years ago with your body?
Gurode: Well I had a couple of surgeries back to back. Wear and tear, that's all. When you have a surgery, you are trying to build muscle, and then you have another surgery, you have to kind of give your body time to really heal and catch up.
Q: So you sound healthy enough and confident enough to where if this is an open competition that you might beat out one of the five for the opener?
Gurode: Hey, all I know is that I want to contribute and be on this team. This is a great organization and a great place. What they are building here is going to be something very special.
Q: With the way you feel right now, and what you feel like you can contribute, what do you think happened so that it took this long before you latched on with a team?
Gurode: I honestly can't tell you. It is just one of those luck of the draw things. There are plenty of players out there who still can play and haven't latched on to a team yet. You just have to wait for your opportunity and when it comes, you have to take advantage of it.
Q: Have you received any other interests before now?
Gurode: A couple calls here and there, but nothing very definite until out of the blue a call came from the Raiders.
Q: When you say not very definite, you didn't go in for a workout or anything?
Gurode: No. I went to workouts last year before I went to Chicago, but coming up this year, no. I haven't done anything but workout in Michael Johnson's Performance, and stay in shape and be ready for a call to come through.