Carr and Mack grow quickly as Raiders leaders

With all the buzz and excitement surrounding the Oakland Raiders, team leaders Derek Carr and Khalil Mack are trying to stay level-headed and focused on the season ahead.

Carr and Mack, both entering their third seasons, showcased their leadership abilities during practice on Friday with tenacious work ethics and non-stop motors.

Charles Woodson and Justin Tuck, who were two key leaders for the Silver and Black last year, retired during the offseason. Carr and Mack are doing their best to fill the leadership void left by future hall-of-famer Charles Woodson.

Carr said he’s ignoring the hype surrounding the Raiders, and is simply trying to emulate the work ethic of Woodson and Tuck:

“I am the hardest person on me at all times. I put so much pressure on myself that I already expect greatness and perfection. I saw that in (Woodson) and I saw that in Tuck, that’s the guys I learned it from, and that’s how I strive to be out her every day as well.”

The third-year signal caller made a monumental leap from his rookie season to his second season. Carr threw for 32 touchdowns last year and 3,987 yards, which earned him his first career Pro Bowl nod and a 91.1 passer rating according to NFL.com. His rookie season he only threw 21 touchdowns for 3,270 yards, which culminated in a 76.6 passer rating — almost dead last for qualified starters.

Head coach Jack Del Rio said Carr’s improvement as a communicator and player is helping the offense develop continuity and consistency.

Del Rio said:

“(Carr) is more comfortable in year two in the system. He’s not having to learn things new. He’s had hundreds of reps at certain concepts, so you can expect him to do things a little sharper and a little crisper. With his teammates, communication and being on the same page, it’s so crucial. If you are going to throw the football in this league, you are going to have to have quarterbacks and receivers on the same page, and good blocking up front.”

Carr has been working on gelling with his wide receivers, particularly Amari Cooper, who’s his roommate during camp.

Carr joked about his relatively quiet teammate:

“Me and Cooper are kickin’ it, having long drawn out conversations as he does with (the media). We’re getting really deep, talking to each other. No I’m just kidding man. It’s great just to talk ball with him. I know how he thinks; I know how he likes to go about his business. Him and I should have the best relationship ever, same thing with all my receivers, and all my teammates really.”

Carr said he makes sure to constantly be checking in with the coaches and training staff to make sure that his teammates are training hard. Teammate Khalil Mack has certainly taken notice of Carr’s leadership capabilities:

“(Carr) has always been a leader. It’s a different level of confidence on the field too. You can see it in the way he groups the guys together and commands the offense, but also has a command over everybody. That’s what you want to see in your quarterback.”

Mack continues to grow as a leader in his own right, and he said he tries to lead by example. He said he practices hard everyday and wants to keep “grinding.”

The third-year defensive end made a huge leap in performance between his rookie season and his second year, just like Carr. Mack was stout against the run his first year with the Silver and Black, but he totaled a disappointing four sacks.

Last season, Mack said that finishing plays was a big priority for him, and it showed on the football field. In his second season, Mack totaled 15 sacks, which was the second highest total in the league. Mack displayed his ferocity and dominance week 14 of the NFL season, where he terrorized quarterback Brock Osweiler and the Broncos defensive line for five sacks.

Despite being the first player to ever be voted AP All-Pro at two positions, at defensive end and outside linebacker, Mack said he wasn’t satisfied with the results of last season:

“Last year is gone. It was historic in certain ways but 7-9 is not good enough. You want to lead and use your abilities to win games, and that’s always what the focus is going to be for me.”

Del Rio said the team is continuing to grow behind the leadership of Carr and Mack:

“Charles (Woodson) was, without question, the number one leader (last season). With Charles not here, they realized they can’t look to Charles and lean on Charles. I think we have a really good group of guys assuming positions within their perspective groups. In fact, I think we’ve taken a significant step forward overall with leadership abilities.”

Camp Notes

Jack Del Rio told the media on Friday that running back Roy Helu Jr. was cut from the team. Helu failed to make an impact with the Raiders in 2015, and now the team has decided to move on without him.

Defensive end Aldon Smith checked in to rehab Friday, according to multiple reports. His reported admission to rehab comes after Smith denied being in a video in which it appeared he was holding a blunt.

Key players Reggie Nelson, Karl Joseph and Clive Walford all participated in practice Friday. All three missed mini camp earlier in the summer but are healthy and ready to go for the preseason.