NAPA — Derek Carr had the last word Tuesday, which is as it should be.
The Raiders quarterback took the podium to address the media after the 13th and final training camp practice as teammates were making their way to their rooms, their cars, and hightailing it out of the Napa Valley Marriott until next year.
Carr is the team’s most conspicuous presence, constantly working the room (or field) with a seemingly endless stream of information, encouragement and the most gentle and good-natured form of criticism when warranted.
As the quarterback in a league driven by quarterbacks, Carr went into training camp as the most important player on the Raiders. At this point, as the Raiders adjourn to the team facility in Alameda, Carr’s influence has grown, if that’s possible.
Part of it has to do with the fact that based on visual evidence, there is a wide chasm between the skill set of Carr to that of Matt McGloin and Connor Cook, the other two quarterbacks on the roster.
Beyond that, it’s clear that Carr’s has taken ownership of the locker room, and that the locker room has bought into Carr as their leader.
Carr conceded that every once in awhile, he doesn’t wake up with boundless energy.
And then what?
“I just remind myself of who I am, my foundation, what I believe and who I am,” Carr said. “I want to make sure I’m always the same for my teammates. Like when we were 0-10, it was hard. But I tried every single day to be the same guy. So . . . when we started winning and I was the same guy, they knew it wasn’t just a game.”
Even with true two-a-days a thing of the past and with contact that gets more and more limited each year, Carr called camp “ a grind, mentally and emotionally.”
Yet still, and this is something that is very clear where Carr is concerned, there is enthusiasm that never seems contrived. Cornerback Sean Smith was the latest player to intercept Carr, taking one away in the end zone Tuesday, and Carr was basically OK with it.
“I will say this, camp was fun, it was a lot of fun,” Carr said. “A lot of plays being made. Even when the defense would make a play, I was mad and all that but at the end of the day, it’s nice to see that. Because they’re that good. They’re that talented. They cover that will or have a good blitz. This camp was a lot of fun to see our team grow.”
Carr conceded that camp as well as the preseason games are a time for experimentation, to see what works and what doesn’t.
“I definitely do stuff that I want to work on in a game setting,” Carr said. “I want to see if we can get better. I want to see if, `Man, if we do that, would it help?’ ”
One big difference in leaving Napa for home base — his roommate will no longer be wide receiver Amari Cooper.
“I’m going to miss Coop, but he can come to the house any day he wants,” Carr said. “We have an extra bedroom.”