Photo by Tony Gonzales
The Oakland Raiders selected CB TJ Carrie, out of Ohio University, in the 7th round (219th overall) of the 2014 NFL Draft. The 6', 204-pound cornerback signed his rookie contract May 20, 2014, officially joining the team he grew up rooting for in Antioch, Calif.
Carrie immediately felt a part of the Silver and Black family, not only because he grew up a Raiders fan, but because he ran track against CB Taiwan Jones in high school and attended the same high school – De La Salle – as RB Maurice Jones-Drew. "We ran track against each other," said Carrie on Jones. "He was always on the opposing football team, so there was a little rivalry there. Then there was also a connection as far as the relationships that we got a chance to build running against each other and being in the same environment. It's helped."
Having previous experience with those two veterans gave Carrie an added comfort level. "It's good to have a support system here as far as veterans that I can really feel comfortable with and really get my bearings going as I come into this new system," said Carrie. "I think the biggest thing is kind of just finding your comfort level within this system and really being able to adjust and adapt to the new environment."
Even more beneficial is the fact that Carrie and Jones work together in the same position room. "I've already got a chance to talk to him and got a feel for what to expect and some of the things I should know as far as practice settings and things like that," said Carrie. "He's given me a little [insight into] what to expect as far as practices and things like that. So I'm excited."
The rookie cornerback has already experienced a rookie mini-camp and one week of Organized Team Activities. The on-field work has made Carrie realize the biggest differences between college football and the NFL. "Tempo – it's something that you have to get adjusted to as far as the speed of the game," Carrie explained. "I think that's the biggest thing just from high school to college and now college to the NFL. You have to get adjusted to the speed of the game. Now you have your linebackers running just as fast as corners and your linemen running just as fast as linebackers. Definitely have to get adjusted to the game."
The other challenge is learning a new system at a much faster pace. "Learning the system as fast as possible – I think that's the biggest separation within this league is that they want to throw a lot at you and want to see how much you can retain in a short amount of time," said Carrie. "The more you can retain, the more valuable you are to the organization. Definitely learning the playbook, it's not like college where they're going to sit there and baby you and teach you step-by-step. This is your job, you need to go home and study and when you come back, you need to know it."
Although the NFL is a great challenge, Carrie is willing to put in the work. "You have to really understand your craft, you have to be able to rely on your craft because everybody is fast, everybody is big and everybody is strong. You can't rely on that," said Carrie. "You're playing with the best of the best so what's going to separate me and what separates other players in this league is that you have to dedicate yourself to the craft. I think that's going to be my biggest factor this year is really honing in and dedicating every aspect of my game to my craft so that I can be the best player I can be."
Carrie will have the added advantage of working with and learning from future Hall of Famer Charles Woodson and a number of veteran defensive backs. "To have this opportunity is, to me, awesome. I'm going to soak up as much information and knowledge about the game from these veterans and the keys and how they've done it for so long," he said. "You never know the background information about how he's played 17 years, what he does on a regular basis. Now that I'm here and I get to see these things from a player's standpoint, I'll understand all the tricks of the trade that he does each and every time he comes into the workplace and I'll feed off of that."
Photos of CB TJ Carrie, one of the Raiders 7th round draft selections, during Rookie Mini-Camp.
The Bay Area-native is committed to giving maximum effort on and off the field. "Every day I'm looking at it as coming into the office and being able to enjoy my job and realizing that the sport that you played for so long is now your job," said Carrie. "For you to come to practice with a lack of effort it just, to me, it confuses me. It's something that I never intend to do."
Carrie appreciates his position in the NFL after overcoming obstacles in the past. Faith, family and friends have helped him achieve is ultimate professional goal. "I think I definitely have to thank the man above just because I've had some struggles and I've had some trials and tribulations that it takes being very strong in your faith and continuing to work hard and being optimistic about everything that comes your way," said Carrie. "I think that's the biggest factor was I had to understand that. I have to help myself first and then the motivation as far as my coaches, the staff, my family, my friends, the organization around me help me sustain a high level of encouragement to keep going. There's a lot of people around me that have supported me to make it through this process and I'm thankful for them."
He wants to use those motivations to make an impact on game day. "Man, the fans love the organization so much it forces you to want to play harder and harder each and every play just for them because of how dedicated, how true they are, to the sport," he said.
Carrie hopes to bring excitement to the game, whether on defense or special teams, and give Raider Nation something to cheer about. "I want them to be excited every time I get on the field," said Carrie. "My main objective is to make big plays each and every play I'm on the field, and hopefully special teams will be a niche of mine, that I can bring to the organization to get the fans on their feet. I want them to be excited and I want them to be standing up on their feet to see what's going to happen."
The Raiders have two more weeks of OTAs and one week of mandatory mini-camp to observe TJ Carrie prior to training camp. Follow along on Raiders.com for all the latest news, photos and features.