There likely isn't a player on the Oakland Raiders who knows more about Cam Newton than linebacker Daren Bates.
Bates and Newton first met when the pair were college teammates at Auburn, and although they spent just one season together, what an unforgettable one it was, as the Tigers capped the 2010 season with a 22-19 win over the Oregon Ducks in the BCS National Championship Game.
It was certainly a memorable season for Newton individually, as he also won the Heisman Trophy, but Bates also has very fond memories of his sophomore campaign with the Tigers.
"It was an amazing year," said Bates. "It was kind of like a dream, really, because we were going through all those games, and before you know it, you look up, and you're an undefeated team, then you're going to the National Championship, and then being able to watch [Newton] play, he's probably going to be the best quarterback to ever play college football, so to be able to be a part of that team was just amazing."
Both Bates and Newton eventually found their way to the NFL, and their paths will cross again Sunday as the Raiders host Newton and the Carolina Panthers at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
And although it's been five years since Bates and Newton shared a huddle, the Raiders linebacker can still harken back to his time with Newton, and share his insight with his current teammates.
"Just from watching him [Newton] he still plays the same, even if he is in the NFL," Bates said. "He still has the same tendencies, same player, same person, so we can all talk in the locker room, and figure out ways to help each other, and be on him. He's a good player, so everybody has to be one in to take him down."
Newton is a unique talent – there's no doubt about that – but Bates and the Raiders have a pretty good quarterback captaining their offense these days as well, with Derek Carr at the helm of the Raiders offense.
However, while both signal-callers are widely considered in the upper echelon of quarterbacks in the NFL, Bates says that's about as far as the similarities run between Carr and Newton.
"Two different people inside the locker room, two different people on the field, two different people off the field, night and day," Bates said. "They're both good players; both good quarterbacks, but two different people all-around… Leaders in their own way."
The Raiders linebacker, and special teams standout, is now nearly three-quarters of the way through his first season with Carr, but even though the third-year quarterback is putting together an MVP-type season, Bates isn't surprised by what he's seen from No. 4.
"I heard about him [Carr] before I even came to the team from other players, from commentators and what not, so that's what I expected when I got here, and seeing it, and actually seeing him go out there on the field, and seeing him make these big plays, and racking up these big numbers, and records and whatnot, it's not surprising," Bates explained. "You knew it was coming, it was only a matter of time."
Cornerback – David Amerson – Knee – Did not part.
LB – Shilique Calhoun – Knee – Did not part.
WR – Michael Crabtree – Ankle – Limited
C – Rodney Hudson – Knee – Limited
DT – Stacy McGee – Ankle – Limited
DB – Keith McGill II – Abdomen – Limited
RB – Latavius Murray – Ankle – Limited
G/T – Kelechi Osemele – Knee – Limited
LB – Perry Riley Jr. – Hamstring – Limited
-After having full participation in practice last week, the same couldn't be said for Wednesday's session, as both cornerback David Amerson and linebacker Shilique Calhoun both missed the first practice of the week.
-In addition to Amerson and Calhoun, seven other players were only able to participate in a limited capacity, most notably wide receiver Michael Crabtree and running back Latavius Murray.
Daren Bates talked about the biggest issues about playing on a short week:
"That's the number one thing, is everybody getting their bodies back, and mentally, it's not going to be as hard as you would think, but physically it is."
Although the Panthers might own just a 4-6 record, the Raiders defense isn't taking the group lightly:
"We don't take anybody lightly. This is the National Football League, any given Sunday, anybody could be beat. Obviously they're not a 4-6 team, as their record indicates. They went to the Super Bowl last year, Cam [Newton] was the MVP last year, so they're very capable of coming in here and knocking us out if we don't take them serious, which we are."
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