A transcription of an interview with Raiders starting quarterback Bruce Gradkowski Thursday:
Q: Talk about your journey going from the knee injuries last year to the torn pec to the starting lineup?
Gradkowski: It’s been a heck of an offseason and preseason and season and just trying to get ready for the year. A couple tough breaks last year, but it always finds its way of working itself out, just preparing and being ready when you get your shot.
Q: How much does it help that you’ve been in this situation before?
Gradkowski: You’re just a play away. Everyone has to understand that. We’re all working towards being the starter. Everyone, that’s why they play this game is to be the starter on this football team or any football team. That’s kind of what you work for, just keeping your eyes on the prize and just keep working and being ready when your time is called and taking advantage of that.”
Q: What was your reaction when you were told you’d be the starter?
Gradkowski:< ./strong> I was excited. Coach Cable sat us down and told us the news. I was excited. But the excitement ends right there. There’s no reason to be excited just yet. I really haven’t done nothing in my mind. This is a long season. I’m just going to take it one week at a time and see what we can do from there.
Q: How hard was it to accept that you weren’t even given a chance to compete for the starting job. You could understand because you were hurt and missed all the offseason workouts, but based on what you had accomplished here, to not even get a shot, was that hard?
Gradkowski: It was tough coming into the offseason not getting a shot to be the starter, but it was understandable. I had just got through a couple injuries and I was just getting back and then I tore my pec. So it was a very unfortunate situation. I understood what was going on and just had to take it as it came. I couldn’t do nothing about it. I was sitting on the sidelines. I just had to get healthy and get ready and just be prepared for when my time is called upon. I think we have a really good quarterback room. We all get along. We’ve got good players. We’re all willing to do whatever it takes to win and focus on our team goals.
Q: Cable talked about the energy you bring to the huddle, and your teammates talk about that. What’s your approach?
Gradkowski: The energy I bring to the huddle is just being myself. I don’t really think about it beforehand or try to do anything fake. It’s just how I play the game. You’ve got to have fun when you play the game and just enjoy it. It’s just that competitive edge that I have that makes me want to compete and win. That’s kind of what I bring to the team and what I try to bring when I play. I just think the main thing is to have fun when we’re out there and just really take it one play at a time.
Q:Where did you get that edge? Have you always had it? Did you get it from Jeff Garcia or someone like that?
Gradkowski: I think I’ve always had that edge. Growing up, just the way I was raised with my parents and in college, high school. I’ve always been a competitor, played every sport and just really want to win at everything, do the best that you can in everything you do. That’s just really what it comes down to, being a competitor and getting after it because the guys on the other side, they’re trying to take your spot and they’re trying to make you look bad, so you’ve got to do the same.
Q: How do you prepare for the Cardinals all week?
Gradkowski: Monday through Saturday, Monday you watch the previous game. Then, once that’s over with, you wipe your slate clean. It’s a new week, a new beginning. This week, we’re facing a good Arizona football team. They went deep in the playoffs last year. This is a good football team, so we have to be prepared. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, it’s work day every day. We just have to be prepared, and we’re doing a good job at that. This is a good football team. We’re working hard and we just continually try to get better.
Q: How does this situation differ from the one you faced last year?
Gradkowski: This year, it’s a little more comfortable stepping in just knowing what I did last year and the guys around in the locker room I’ve played with. So, they know how I play and what I bring to the table. So, it’s exciting. I’m excited to get out there and just play. We’re all looking forward to it. This is a big week for us. Like I said, it’s a good Arizona football team that we’re about to face, and we have to be ready.
Q: What kind of confidence do you draw from the Pittsburgh game?
Gradkowski: Just from last year, there’s some good things to take from last year. I also know that that doesn’t matter anymore. Last year was last year, and you got to get it done this year. That’s kind of what I’m focusing on, just being consistent week in, week out. Just taking it as it comes. You can only take it one week at a time and you can’t overlook anyone.
Q: Does what happened to Campbell place added pressure on you to be sharp every game?
Gradkowski: Yeah, our coaches just want to win. We just want to win here and whatever we have to do, whatever it takes to win. Like I said before, we have a good quarterback room. Jason’s a good quarterback. Kyle’s a good quarterback. There’s nothing against those guys. It’s just finding whatever we can do to win games. Yeah, it does put pressure on me to do my job, but you really can’t think about that. You got to go out, take it one play at a time and just do what you’re able to do.
Q:< ./strong> Why isn’t there platooning at quarterback in the NFL?
Gradkowski: Well, the quarterback position, it’s a very important position. It’s the most important position in the game. You kind of have to go with one guy and stick with him. In another sense, you have three quarterbacks on the team. Whatever it takes, if it’s this guy this week, this guy the next week, whatever you have to do to win games, you do that. The players have no control over that. We just come out and compete every day knowing that that’s what you work for is to be the starter. We all understand that. We just want to get better and help this team win.
Q: Can you explain the lift you bring to the offense?
Gradkowski: \When I come in the game I just try to play the way I’m coached to play and just be myself out there and I think the guys out there respect that. And I think if you’re working hard and playing as hard as they are, they’ll respect that. That’s all you really can do. Like I keep saying, take it one play at a time, and do what you’re coached to do. I mean, we have good coaches here, just listen to them and just let the game play out.
Q:You had 11 starts with Tampa Bay in ’06. What have you learned since then?
Gradkowski: I started 11 games as a rookie in Tampa and I’ve had great coaching, coach Gruden and coach Hackett there, and I was very fortunate to get that experience as a young guy. But over the last so many years, you grow, you learn, you learn from different things, different mistakes, different situations. It feels more comfortable now. I’m a little older I’ve been around longer and I understand how this game works. This game’s about winning and that’s really what it comes down to.
Q: The rapport you have with Hackett, is it special for a back-up QB?
Gradkowski:: No, I think have a good relationship with all the coaches, coach Hackett, coach Tollner, coach Hue Jackson, coach Cable, they all do a great job of getting us prepared. Every coach we have on the staff, they do their own jobs and what they’re supposed to do. I think the relationship we have here as players and coaches are good and that’s what you need to build a winning football team.’
Q: Most coaches bring in back-up, say we’ll give him a game, but Cable said job is yours. Put your mind at ease?
Gradkowski: In my mind, I’m always taking it one game at a time. That’s really all you can do and no matter what coach said, you just never know. Cause like I said, winning’s the name of the game and if I’m not getting it done, I’m sure he’s going to try to find someone else who will. You just kind of have to respect that. And like I said come out here and compete and things will work out.’’
Q: Could you compare yourself to another QB?
Gradkowski:: You know I really wouldn’t compare myself to too many other quarterbacks out there. I kind of always looked up to Drew Brees, he’s smart, he manages football games and he gets the job done, he makes good decisions . But there’s a lot of good quarterbacks in this league, and you kind of have to be your own individual and bring whatever you can to that team, whatever they need.