COSTA MESA, Calif. — Everything is new for Derek Carr and his Saints teammates as he goes through his first NFL training camp with any team other than the Raiders.
Even the jokes.
Fortunately for Carr, he isn’t alone in making the transition from the Raiders to the Saints. Several former teammates are with him in New Orleans to help ease the process.
That doesn’t mean there haven’t been some awkward moments.
“(Foster Moreau) and I have some inside jokes and last year (with the Raiders) people just got them, but now they’re all looking at each other at the table and we have to kind of explain it to them,” Carr said after a joint practice with the Chargers on Thursday afternoon. “We’re in a new place, but it’s been a lot of fun.”
Carr has brought far more than just Moreau and the jokes with him to New Orleans.
Former Raiders coach Jon Gruden has visited training camp a few times to help work with Carr and the roster also includes former Raiders Lynn Bowden Jr., Bryan Edwards and Jonathan Abram.
Saints coach Dennis Allen was also the head coach of the Raiders during Carr’s rookie season.
“It’s been really good to have familiar faces to go through a new situation with,” said Carr, who had just walked off the field after competing with the defense of the former division-rival Chargers including Khalil Mack, a former Raider and close friend of Carr.
While he chatted with a reporter, he was greeted by Chargers receiver Keelan Doss, another former Raider. It was just another reminder of all the paths he crossed during nearly a decade with his previous team.
Carr was a second-round pick of the Raiders out of Fresno State in 2014 and was the franchise’s starting quarterback from Week 1 of his rookie season until he was benched with two games remaining last season and ultimately released.
The 32-year-old signed a four-year deal with the Saints in March and officially suited up for a new team for the first time on Sunday when he completed six of eight passes for 70 yards and a touchdown on his only drive in a preseason victory over Kansas City.
Saints rookie quarterback Jake Haener, a fellow Fresno State alum, told Carr before the game it was strange seeing him in anything but the customary silver and black of the Raiders.
“When you’re in one place for almost a decade, it’s going to look weird wearing something else,” Carr said. “But it felt right just for the season we’re in and the season they’re in.
“I think it’s going to be good for everyone and that’s what it’s about. They have to do what’s best for them and I have to do what’s best for me. I think it will be good for everybody.”
One of the ways it could be even better for Carr is if star wide receiver Michael Thomas is able to stay healthy and have a productive season. Thomas caught more than 100 passes in three straight seasons, including 149 in 2019, but has been limited to just 10 games in the last three years.
He and Carr appeared to be developing a nice connection during Thursday’s practice.
“We’re still building every day,” Thomas said. “Derek is a pro. We’re just building on (the communication) and building trust.”
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‘No hard feelings,’ Carr says
COSTA MESA, Calif. — Former Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said Thursday his daughter recently visited Saints training camp and was celebrating on the sideline yelling, “Touchdown, Raiders.”
“I had to tell her, ‘Not anymore,'” he laughed. “But I have no hard feelings toward any of my guys. I want them to succeed because I know when you don’t succeed, it’s tough. It’s hard and it’s hard on your family. It’s hard on everyone, and I don’t want that for my friends.”
After playing in Sunday’s Saints-Chiefs preseason game, he returned home to his family watching the Raiders beat the 49ers on television. He found himself rooting on his guys, including kicker Daniel Carlson, who made a pair of long field goals.
“I really do wish the Raiders the best,” he said. “Those are my friends. I hope they win and do great, but I’m in New Orleans now and I’m going to give them everything I have with a new energy that I’m excited to bring.”
Adam Hill/Las Vegas Review-Journal