A transcription of an interview with Raiders linebacker Aaron Curry following his first practice:
Q: Has it been a whirlwind, learning you’re traded and now starting on Sunday?
Curry: It’s been very eventful, very exciting. Just to know that Coach has faith in me that I can come in and play right away is a great confidence-booster for me, just to know that he believes in me. My job is to get out there and do my job, be held accountable to do my job and just play hard and fast and fit in with Raider football.
Q: How does it feel to have a fresh start?
Curry: It’s like a breath of fresh air. One of the first things Coach told me is that I didn’t have to worry about any opinions formed on me before the day that he and I met. I’m starting with a clean slate and he doesn’t care what happened back in the past. It’s all about moving on to the future. When he told me that I took a deep breath because that was my biggest concern was would the opinions pass on from club to club or from person to person. With him telling me I had a clean slate that gives me the opportunity to come out here and develop what I want him to see and who I want him to know.
Q: Can you pinpoint why it didn’t work in Seattle?
Curry: Not necessarily. I can’t really pinpoint it. If I could have pinpointed it I might have fixed it. It just didn’t work out. It sucks that it didn’t but I’m excited to be here in Oakland and playing for the Raiders. My brother Eric Barton played here for five years so I’m just getting a shot to carry his legacy on. I’m excited about that.
Q: Strange to get here today, start Sunday?
Curry: When you look at it from the outside in it looks weird but I’ve been practicing all week whether I was wearing blue or whether I was wearing black. I’ve been working on my linebacking skills for the last four weeks, just honing all my skills and learning everything about football, not just about where I was playing in our defense. So I’m prepared to play football. When it comes down to it, who has the ball?
Q: What do you do best?
Curry: Run. The best thing I do is run. Wait for the runner to make a move and run in his direction. That’s my best asset.
Q: Can you see how this system suits that?
Curry: Yes. Definitely. From alignment to assignment, we’re allowed, the whole entire defense, we’re allowed to line up and run and hit. That’s what’s good about this defense. That’s what’s going to be so exciting about this defense.
Q: Have to think before you ran in Seattle?
Curry: Sometimes. Sometimes I was putting too much pressure on myself to do too much thinking versus just running and hitting. When coach told me ‘We’re coming down here to play fast and we’re coming out to play smart as well, but we’re going to play fast and we’re going to run and we’re going to hit, we’re going to be a physical defense,’ … that’s right down my alley.
Q: Moving from Sam to Will, is it a big transition?
Curry: Not a big deal. It would seem like it but as far as the scheme goes, no matter what you name the linebacker it’s pretty much what I played when I played up north. It’s just going out there, similar keys, some different fits but it’s all going to boil down to getting to the football.
Q: Were you upset or angry with how things were going in Seattle?
Curry: I was at first. Naturally, I was just frustrated but I got my focus back and before I left I was at complete peace. I was done focusing on my circumstance. I handed that to my God and let him handle it and he put me where he said I should be. That’s why I’m so excited. I’ve been placed here for a reason. There’s a purpose for me being here and it’s not because of anything that anything that we do. It’s because a divine person said for me to be here. That’s why I’m so excited.
Q: How would you assess your pass coverage skills?
Curry: I would say I’ve gotten way better from my rookie year and it’s going to get even better here because it’s not as complex. We’re using simple terms and we’re going to keep it simple so that we all can play hard, we can all play fast and really hone in on our individual skills.
Q: How were you greeted by your new teammates?
Curry: Everybody’s been excited. Everybody’s been happy saying that they’re happy to have me here. I’ve just been letting them know how excited, how I can wait to get out there on Sunday and play in front of the Black Hole and just go crazy. The last time I saw them I was playing for Seattle so they weren’t for me but when they were cheering for the Raiders they were going nuts. Even the stuff that they were saying toward us, they were going crazy so I just can’t to feel that emotion.
Q: Some of your former teammates are saying now you can relax, without feeling the pressure of being the No. 4 pick . . .
Curry: It was of very, very high expectations that early on I let the pressure get to me, and then when I did let the pressure get to me that was an issue. So it was kind of a back and forth. I really think the expectations are extremely high, and now coach said I’m allowed to come here and just relax and be me. The only expectation is to play Raider football, follow the rules that we follow, play the ball that we play, and take it from there.
Q: Wake Forest defense, how did that role translate to being in NFL?
Curry: Well, the difference when I was in school and the NFL, we played two defenses, when I was in school and we didn’t care that people knew what we were in, we knew how they were going to attack it to beat it. That’s the biggest difference. I played the same thing every snap. If I didn’t play it this way, I played it that way, and it never changed. We didn’t have any exceptions, we didn’t have any options. This is how we play it, this is how you do it. Do it fast, and that was the biggest difference between school and college (think he means school and the NFL) where up north, we had a lot of stuff. You had to be able to do everything. Everybody has to be able to do everything, versus just being just given a role and just taking off with it.
Q: Nervous, this is is your third coach . . . wondering what’s coming down here, what will playbook look like, etc.
Curry: Yeah, of course. The first thing I thought about was the playbook. I knew from the history of the Raiders and their defense, how they do things. I knew some of the stuff. I knew that some of the things they were going to play and how they looked like some of the stuff we did in Seattle, but still, everyone has their own stuff, and so, of course I thought about it and once I got it in my hands yesterday it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Not yet, at least.
Q: Was Wednesday your last day in Seattle . . .
Curry: Tuesday was. Wednesday I didn’t practice. Tuesday was my last day.
Q: When did you start hearing you might be coming to Oakland?
Curry: When they called me and said, that Oakland was looking and was interested. And it was like Wednesday.
Q: What has Blackstock said about being here?
Curry: Blackstock is awesome, man. He just told me we’re going to be given a shot to do what we do as linebackers and he’s really expressed his passion for linebacker play and how we should play, and he’s shown his excitement and he’s helped me with the playbook along with coach Biek, he’s helped me with the playbook and he’s just constantly talking to me and telling me to put the past behind me. He said the same thing, there’s a purpose, and there’s a reason why we’re both here. Last time I saw him I was a 195 pounds coming out of high school and so we both believe that there’s a purpose for us both being here and that’s for us to, for all of us, to go out there and play Raider football. Like, I keep seeing on the walls, it says, `build a bully’ and that’s what I’m excited about.
Q: Had a chance to talk to Groves?
Curry: Yeah, we chatted. I met Groves after one of the preseason games, so it wasn’t really like, we didn’t have to introduce ourselves to each other, it was what’s up, good seeing you again.
Q: Have you talked to your brother Eric Barton about being a Raider?
Curry: Yeah, Eric’s way more excited than I am. I’m excited, and he’s like over-the-mountain excited. He’s like, I mean, when can I come up? Where can I stay? I’ll be there tomorrow. I’ll see you tomorrow. What’s the defense look like? Tell the coaches I say hey? I think he’s revisiting his time here and he had some special time here. I believe he went to the Super Bowl in 2002, so he’s extremely excited. He should be here today and he’s going to show me the ropes and he’s going to tell me all about Raider football, and I’m also excited about that, to actually have the history in my blood and be able to talk to him, he’s going to tell me how it should look and how we should do it.