By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Sunday, March 11th, 2012 at 9:26 am in Oakland Raiders.
Rock Cartwright insisted that in the business of the NFL, it wasn’t all that unusual to be receiving an award with a dinner in his honor by a franchise which may or may not want to retain his services for the coming year.
“Not really, man,” Cartwright said before the Commitment to Excellence dinner at the Oakland Airport Hilton. “I lay my heart out there every game I was out there. I really can’t worry about stuff I can’t control. That’s between those guys and my agent, and hopefully something can be worked out. I love it here. I would like to spend the rest of my career here. How long is that, who knows? But I’m going to let the front office and my agent handle that.”
A 10-year veteran, Cartwright has won the award each of the last two seasons. It is given to the player based on hard work, leadership and excellence on the field and is voted upon by the team.
The Raiders will continue the process of putting together a roster under general manager Reggie McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen. Both attended the dinner for Cartwright (neither spoke to the two reporters on hand, myself and Paul Gutierrez of CSN-Bay Area). Cartwright got a chance to talk to both men Friday and Saturday but seemed to have no better idea whether he is in Oakland’s plans or not.
NFL teams learn the exact salary cap number (expected to be in the $120 million range) Monday then must be compliant on Tuesday before free agency begins.
“You can’t predict anything right now,” Cartwright said. “You never know what’s going to happen. I think Tuesday is going to be an interesting day for a lot of people. A lot of people’s lives are going to change, including myself, probably. (It) may not be Tuesday, it may be a week after the draft, but it may change, and you’ve got to prepare yourself for that.”
Other Cartwright observations:
His relationship with the other running backs
“Those guys are like my brothers. I’ve known them for two years now and it seems like I’ve known them forever.”
Darren McFadden’s health
“He’s able to do everything that he used to be able to do, run routes, things like that. I know Darren. He loves the game. He’s one of the most humble first-round draft picks since I’ve been in the league. He’s working to get back and we have to surround him with good people and a good group of guys so he can do the things he’s capable of doing.”
McFadden’s history of injury
“When you see a guy that puts so much into something and gets hurt on a check-down, and it costs you your season, you feel for the guy. It’s like every time he has something going it’s like there’s something that wants to set him back. But he keeps coming back out and producing. I think he’s going to get healthy, I think he’s going to stay healthy and I think once he does he’ll probably be the best back in the league.”
The viability of free agent Michael Bush as a ever-down back
“I think Bush is an every down back. He’s able to run the ball, he’s able to catch the ball, he’s able to pick up blitzes. He’s able to do everything. I think if given 20 to 25 carries a game, I think he’d definitely be one of the top rushers in the league.”
On former coach Hue Jackson
“I spoke with Hue a couple of times. We didn’t speak about what ahppened, we just spoke about the future and what he had going on and he just told me to stay in contact. I’m sure he’ll get an opportunity (to be a head coach) again some time down the road, because I think he’s a great leader and a great man, and I wish him the best.”
Editorial aside _ with Jackson having a role helping coach the Bengals’ special teams, don’t be surprised to see him push for Cartwright with coach Marvin Lewis. As the story goes, Jackson made the draft pick as a Washington assistant when Cartwright came into the NFL.
Whether he sees himself as a teammate or mentor
“A little bit of both. But I think the big thing is, they listen to what I saw. When you have someone who listens to what you say and they go out and do it, it’s like, wow, that’s what you get excitement from. Seeing those guys have great games on Sunday, it’s like I had a good game, because I’ve seen them put in the work during the week.”