Running back Rashad Jennings spoke with the Bay Area media on the same day that he signed a contract with the Raiders. Here is the transcript from the conference call:
Q: What attracted you to the Raiders and what other teams were you talking to before making this decision?
Jennings: We had a few preliminary conversations with Green Bay and Denver and conversations with the Raiders. They called me out for the visit, for the workout, and going over to the West Coast, we got friends and family over there. I looked over all the organization and where they’re headed, where they want to go, and everything they have lined up and I think that it will be a good fit for me to be a part of the organization and help build this team.
Q: Did having Greg Olson with the Raiders play any role in your choosing come to this team?
Jennings: I think any player would say it’s always a thumbs up to be around a coach that’s been around you for a period of time. They know you. They know your work ethic. They know what you’re going to bring to the table. He was the quarterbacks coach in Jacksonville and now the offensive coordinator with the Raiders. That plays a role in being comfortable with knowing somebody, but football, you’re going to be issued a playbook. You’re going to be issued an opportunity to be on the field and showcase your talent and when it comes to familiarity, regardless if you know a coach on the staff or know anybody, it’s an opportunity to go out and prove yourself. So that’s what I’m excited to do. I’m excited to come help this team win some football games.
Q: Why do you think you weren’t as successful last year?
Jennings: I always take ownership. If things go well, it’s the offensive linemen. If things go bad, it’s because I didn’t do a good job. That’s my mentality. That’s how I’ve always been since peewee football. It’s not going to change now. As an offense, we were not clicking on sync as we wished we could have, should have. But that’s all in the past. We can’t go backwards at all. I’m excited to be a Raider. I’m excited with what we’re going to do.
Q: When you were put on injured reserve in 2011 with a knee injury, did you reinjure that knee the next season?
Jennings: Did I reinjure the knee in the next season? Yeah, I had a little setback, but it was nothing significant to miss a heavy dose of game time or anything. I’m 100 percent healthy. I came out of the season completely healthy and I’ve been healthy the whole off-season. All injures are in the past. That’s a done deal. That’s washed away. And again, as I signed the contract and I talked to Coach, I’m really looking forward more than looking what happened, what should have happened, what could have happened. We’re looking at what we can control.
Q: How would you describe yourself as a running back? Lot of people want to put labels on backs whether they’re a power guy, a shifty guy, a zone-running scheme guy…how would you describe yourself if you had to?
Jennings: I like to describe myself as a complete back. I’m a back that can protect the quarterback, pick up an offense, a running back that can catch out of the backfield, a running back that can get you first downs, a running back that can get you the long plays, an every down back. As long as I’ve been playing the game, I’ve been practicing to become a complete back and that’s what I hold myself to.
Q: What were your impressions of Darren McFadden from afar?
Jennings: He’s explosive. I played him two years the last four years, getting a chance on the opposite sideline to watch him. He’s explosive, a patient runner, he knows the game and I’m excited to work with him.
Q: Did Maurice Jones-Drew give you any tips for living out here in the Bay Area?
Jennings: Me and Maurice, me and him are real good friends. During the off-season my first few years in the off-season, we lived with each other down in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We trained with Pete Bommarito and we got a chance to get to know each other real well. I lived with him prior to the draft. So that’s a long dear friend of mine. He’s talking trash. If you know anything about Maurice, he’s always got something smart to say. But he wished me well, wished me luck, and let me know I have a connect in Oakland if I ever need an extra family of support. Everything is on the up and up. We’re excited and Maurice wishes me well. He called me and was the first to tell me as soon as free agency started, he said, ‘Rashad, I’ve been playing the game for awhile. I know what kind of talent you have and you’re going to get your chance again somewhere and I know what you’re going to do. So just be patient.’ Me and Maurice got a real good connection.
Q: What was your impression of the Raiders just as an organization from afar too? If somebody talked about the Oakland Raiders, what popped into your head?
Jennings: Tradition pops in my head. Excellent, great fan base pops in my head. Eager and hungry team pops in my head. I think about blue collar, dirt, fighting, dirty yards. I think about backyard football when I think about the Raiders.
Q: You said you think of the Raiders as being a gritty type team. That seems to fit the mold of a lot of the players they’re signing lately, under the radar, hard working, nose to the grindstone type of guys. Is that how you would describe yourself?
Jennings: Yeah, I’m always hard working. I don’t pay attention where I’ve ever been on anybody’s radar, from high school to college to pros because it’s irrelevant of the work you have to put in. I’m a firm believer in when opportunity presents itself, it’s too late to prepare for it. I’m the type of person that takes this game very serious. I stay in shape year round and I’m a blue collar, hardnosed, downhill kind of guy. I’m looking forward to being in that environment where it’s already expected.