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Q&A with Tracy Porter

Q: How much did the fact that Dennis Allen is the head coach here have to do with your decision?

Porter: It played a pretty significant part because he was my defensive backs coach my first three years in New Orleans. I'm very familiar with what he likes to do. He's familiar with me and there's just a natural comfort zone there.

Q: What can you tell us about how you're doing right now? It seems like last year was in some ways kind of a lost season because of health issues and the like. Are you totally 100 percent ready to go right now?

Porter: Oh yeah, I'm more than 100 percent ready. The reason I was late on the phone call is I'm in the middle of a workout right now. I just remembered that I had to talk to you guys so I've been working out for the past two or three months. I'm perfectly fine, just doing my defensive back drills, doing various workouts and haven't had any setbacks. Look at last season as a learning experience as well as a setback. Every setback is always an opportunity for a comeback. I had a setback last year and now I'm looking to have a major comeback.

Q: When you say no setbacks, are you referring to seizures?

Porter: No, the seizure that was just a one-time deal. They never really found the cause, maybe the altitude, maybe I wasn't adjusted to the climate, for whatever reason that happened, but it happened. It's in the past. I've been cleared of everything and I'm ready to go. I'm 100 percent.

Q: When you talk about knowing what Dennis Allen likes to do, what do you envision this defense looking like then?

Porter: I look at it as a little bit of the things that allowed those guys to be successful last year. Corner play is huge, not only for Dennis, but for any team to be successful in the NFL. If you don't have successful guys on an island that can help you get off the field on third down, then it's going to be hard for your guys to rush the passer and get sacks on the quarterback. I just look for him to put pressure on the corners to lock those guys down out there on the edges. He's always done a good job in developing his corners. I came out, I had talent. I could do certain things, but he taught me things along the way, technique-wise. He taught me things mentally to prepare myself to go out there on the field and give it my all each and every play and that made me a better corner on the field. It provided me with a lot of success. And having that history with him, just hoping we can pick back up where we left off in New Orleans.

Q: Did you take visits to any other teams? Were there other opportunities that you could pursue?

Porter: I took a visit to New Orleans, I took a visit there, but it was just mainly between New Orleans and Oakland. A few teams inquired about me, but they didn't make a move. I don't know that they were scared that I had a real problem with seizures or not, but that clearly wasn't the case. Like I said, I'm completely cleared of that whole element. That's in the past now. I'm not even concerned with having another because, like I said, I've been cleared. I've been taking extra care of my body and I feel great, feel wonderful, and ready to embrace this opportunity to get my career back on track after the setbacks I had last year. To show everyone I am a corner that can play at this level and play at an elite level.

Q: You look at the stuff you've done in the Super Bowl and everything else and you're still only 26. Do you feel like you have a lot of football still ahead of you?

Porter: Absolutely. For one, I haven't really taken a lot of banging on my body through the years. I started playing football my 11th grade year of high school. Most guys, they started playing football when they were like four or five so they've been knocked around a lot longer than I have. I still have a slight edge on guys in that aspect, as well as I didn't play much last year so my body had enough time to recover. I haven't taken a lot of nicks on the body, which is a plus for me. I wanted to be out there on the field, but at the end of the day, playing in this league, you're going to get banged up. That allowed my body to heal for any little nagging little nicks that I've had, any little injury that I've sustained. Like I said, I feel brand new. I'm as healthy as I've ever been and I'm looking forward and excited about the opportunity before me.

Q: How tough was it last year to not only have a seizure but then to come back and not be able to play again? Were you thinking you'd be able to come back and get back on the field?

Porter: It was tough. Being the competitor that I am, I wanted to be out on the field once I was cleared and healthy. This is a business and those guys, they played great. They played tremendous in my absence. They just felt comfortable with those guys on the field and that's the nature of the business. You get hurt, guys step up, and you have to watch those guys play. No player wants to sit back and watch another guy play, but at the end of the day, like I said, it's a part of the business. I accepted it for what it was and that's just what happens.

Q: When you look at the Raiders, do you sense that they're rebuilding? What's your stance on the rest of the roster when you look at it right now?

Porter: I mean they have a lot of talent, a lot of speed on the roster. We played those guys, when I was in Denver, we played them, and like I said, they have talent on offense, they have talent on defense. They just have to put all that talent together as a team collectively and not back down from any challenge. I don't know how the locker room is right now because I haven't had the opportunity to be around the guys yet. My whole mind frame is I don't look at anybody as unbeatable. I don't care who I'm playing with, where I'm playing or what history the team has. They can win 100 games in a row, if they come up and play us, I'm expecting to beat that team. I'm just hoping the guys in the locker room take that same mentality out there.

Q: Do you see yourself as the leading type or do you expect to come in and take on that role?

Porter: I welcome any challenge. If I'm asked to be one of the leaders on this team, I'll definitely do that. I'm more of a guy that leads by example rather than going in and being the rah-rah guy and saying, 'this is what we need to do, this is what we don't need to do,' and I don't do it. I'd rather just show guys on the field, off the field, the way it's supposed to be done and it'll be up to them if they follow the lead, which I'm hoping they would do.

Q: Seems like the strategy of Reggie McKenzie and Coach Allen this whole off-season, they're looking for guys that are either looking for a second chance or a first chance, guys who really get into the books and love football, guys who don't bring a lot of drama with them; does that sum you up?

Porter: Pretty much. I couldn't have said it better myself. I'm a guy that stays out of trouble, doesn't get himself into difficult situations. I'm a guy who loves the game of football, who wants nothing more than to succeed and wants my team to succeed. Another thing that the coaches and Reggie, they've done a real good job of bringing guys in and keeping guys that have that same mindset. Nobody wants to bring guys in that are troublemakers that are going to be a cancer to the team and break up the team. You don't want that because that destroys the camaraderie. It breaks up the locker room and then you have a bunch of guys that are just playing for themselves. No one is on the same page. So we want guys that want to win, that love the game of football, that just want to take this Raiders team to a new level.

Q: Are you one of those big film guys because your big interception against Peyton Manning, I'm sure you had to study him quite a bit? Or are you kind of one of guys who let his athleticism take over?

Porter: No, I would say maybe in the beginning I kind of relied on my athleticism early on in my career, but as I begin to learn the NFL game, because it's quite different from high school and college, you have to do more than just rely on your talents because everyone at this level is talented. That's why there's such a small percentage of people that make it to this level. I've grown to learn to study more film because it allows you to play faster. It allows you to know what the opposing team is doing. It allows you to know what the opposing team likes to do, what they don't like to do and if you're out there on the field and you know or have a feeling of what they're going to do, it'll allows you to play faster. That guy that's running a 4.7 looks like he's running a 4.4. The guy who's running the 4.2 looks like he's running a 4.1. That's just because they're a student of the game, they know what's coming and they know what to anticipate.

Q: Did you say playing for Dennis Allen brings out the best in you? Is that why you joined the Raiders?

Porter: Having an opportunity to rejuvenate my career was one thing and, like I said, Dennis did a great job bringing the best out of you. I've grown to love the guy because he was my coach. He's the one who had a hand in getting me drafted. He wanted me in that room in New Orleans and he wants me in the room in Oakland. He and I have a long history together. It almost seems like I'm following him because he went to New Orleans to Denver. I went from New Orleans to Denver. He went from Denver to Oakland. Now I'm going from Denver to Oakland. So it almost seems like he and I are simultaneously sticking together.

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