A transcription of a conference call Wednesday with newly-signed cornerback Tracy Porter and Bay Area reporters who cover the Raiders:
Q: How appealing to play for Dennis Allen again?
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. I mean, he’s familiar with me and it was just a natural comfort zone there.
Q: How is your health, a lost season last year . . . are you 100 percent?
Porter: Oh yeah. I’m more than 100 percent ready. I was actually late on the phone call, I’m in the middle of the phone call right now and I just remembered I had to talk to you guys. I’ve been out for the past two or three months, perfectly fine, doing defensive back drills, haven’t had any setbacks. I look at last season as a learning experience as well as just a setback. Any setback, there’s always an opportunity for a comeback. It was a setback last year, now I’ll have a major comeback.
Q: When you say no setbacks, are you referring to the seizures?
Porter: I mean, the seizure, that was just a one-time deal. They never really found the cause. It may be the altitude. Maybe I wasn’t adjusted to the climate. I don’t know the reason that it 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: Talked about Dennis’ style, what do you envision this defense looking like?
Porter: I look at it as a little bit of the things that allowed those guys to be successful last year. I mean, 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 affect the quarterback. I just look for him to put pressure on the corners to lock those guys down out there on the edges, and he’s always done a good job in developing his corners. I came out, yeah, 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 to go out there on the field and give my all each and every play and that made me a better corner on the field. It provided me with a lot of success. Having that history with him, I was hoping we could just pick back up where we left off up in New Orleans.
Q: Visits to other teams? Other opportunities?
Porter: 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, they didn’t make a move, I don’t know if they were scared that I had a real problem with seizures or not, but that clearly wasn’t the case. I’ve been cleared of that whole element. That’s in the past now, I’m even concerned with having another. I’ve been cleared. I’ve been taking extra care of my body. If feel great. I feel wonderful and I’m just ready to embrace this opportunity to get my career back on track because of the setback I had last year and show people I am a corner who can play at this level and play at an elite level.
Q: With all you’ve done, Super Bowl championship, etc., still only 26, feel a lot of football in 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 in high school. Most guys, they start to play football when they’re 4 and 5, so they’ve been getting knocked around a lot more than I have. I still have a slight edge on guys from that aspect as well, I mean, 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. It’s 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, but that allowed my body to heal for any nagging little nicks that I’ve had, any little injuries that I sustained. I feel brand new. I’m as healthy as I’ve ever been. I’m just looking forward and I’m excited about the opportunity before me.
Q: How tough to not only have seizure, but not get back on field?
Porter: It was tough. Being the competitor that I am, I wanted to get back on the field once I was cleared and healthy, but 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 I mean, that’s the nature of the business. You get hurt, guys step up and I mean, 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 it’s a part of the business. I accepted it for what it was, and that’s just what happened.
Q: When you look at Raiders, get sense they’re rebuilding?
Porter: I mean, they have a lot of talent, a lot of speed on the roster. We played those guys, when we were in Denver I played them, and I mean, like I said, they have talent on offense, they have talent on defense, we just have to put all that talent on the field 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, who 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 that the guys in the locker room take that same mentality out there.
Q: See self as a leader? Come in take on that role?
Porter: I welcome any challenge. If I’m asked to be one of the leaders on the 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 say this is wwhat 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 will be up to them if they follow that lead, which I’m hoping they would do.
Q: Seems like strategy is to get guys who are looking for either a second chance or a first chance, serious about football, love it, are short on drama . . .does that sum you up?
Porter: Pretty much. I mean, I couldn’t have said it better myself. I’m a guy that stays out of trouble, doesn’t put 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. And another thing the coaches, and Reggie, they’re doing a 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 comraderie, it breaks up the locker room, you have have a bunch of guys that are playing for themselves, no one’s 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 a big film guy, or someone who relies on athletic ability and lets that take over?
Porter: I would say, in the beginning I kind of relied on my athleticism early in my career, but as I began to learn the NFL game, because it’s quite different from high school and college. I mean, you have to do more than just rely on your talent, because everyone at this level is talented. There’s such a small percentage of people that make it to this level. I’ve grown to learn and study more film because it allows you to play faster, it allows you to know what the opposing team’s doing. It allows you to know what the opposing team likes to do, what they don’t like to do. If you’re out there and have an idea of what they like to do, it allows you to play faster. The 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: Does playing for Allen bring out best of you?
Porter: Having an opportunity rejuvenate my career is one thing, and like I said, Dennis, he did a great job in bringing the best out of me. I’ve grown to love the guy, he was my coach. He was the one who had a hand in getting me drafted. I mean, he wanted me in that room in New Orleans and he wants me in the room in Oakland. I mean, he and I have along history together and it almost seems like he and I, it almost seems like I’m following him because he went from 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. It almost seems like he and I are simultaneously sticking together.