Saints quarterback has simple goal in second stint with head coach

Published 2:29 pm Thursday, September 7, 2023

By John DeShazier

New Orleans Saints

NEW ORLEANS — Obviously, Derek Carr wants to be successful for himself.

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The Las Vegas Raiders essentially gave up on the quarterback and the organization pivoted in a direction that pointed away from the franchise’s all-time leader in games (142), passing yards (35,222), passing touchdowns (217), completions (3,201) and completion percentage (64.6), among a bucketful of team records Carr set in the nine seasons since being drafted in second round (No. 36 overall) in 2014.

But the refresh button in New Orleans includes wanting to be successful in part because Carr wants now to be what he wasn’t as a rookie for the coach who drafted him: New Orleans’ Dennis Allen, who was the Raiders coach at the beginning of 2014.

Carr and the Saints will open the regular-season Sunday against Tennessee in the Caesars Superdome.

“I’m not a rookie,” Carr said, referring to the difference between the 23-year-old who was handed the reigns to the Raiders, and the 32-year-old who handles the controls of the Saints offense.

“We’re always learning, but I was learning a whole lot then. Had no idea what I was getting myself into, all those kinds of things that all rookies deal with. But I just feel like I’m more now the quarterback I wanted to be for (Allen) then.

“Hopefully, I can be successful and help him have more success. That’s ultimately what I want to do, is just seem him succeed. I believe in him so much. It’s a big reason why I came.”

Allen, set to open his second season as Saints coach, can see the maturation.

“I think experience is probably the biggest thing with him,” Allen said. “When I had him as a rookie, he was still trying to figure it all out. And yet, now he’s been through the wars, he understands how pro football operates, he understands what he’s looking at from an offensive standpoint. He’s just a lot more mature as an individual both personally and professionally. It’s been awesome to see that growth.

“I’m excited about it. Derek’s a guy that I’ve got experience with, and yet, it’s been a while since we’ve been together. I’m excited about watching him go out and play. He’s had a really productive training camp, I think our offense performed at a very good level. I’m excited about watching him, but I’m exciting about watching the whole team play, in every single phase.”

The balance will be that while Carr attempts to be a highly productive quarterback for the Saints, that he doesn’t assume too much of the load.

“Derek’s a competitor, and he’s a leader and he’s a perfectionist,” said tight end Foster Moreau, a New Orleans native who was Carr’s teammate with the Raiders the first four seasons of his career, before each joined the Saints this offseason as unrestricted free agents.

“He wants to try to make sure that everything gets right, and he’s looking to do that here. I hope he doesn’t put too much of that pressure on himself. Obviously, there’s a lot of stuff on his mind but as long as he goes out and competes and is himself, I don’t see anything going wrong.”

Carr, too, senses something positive brewing as he opens his first season with the Saints – especially after a strong offseason.

“I feel very confident,” Carr said. “That is one thing about me, I will never lose confidence whether it goes really great or doesn’t go so great. I always believe in myself and believe in what I can do, but we’ve put a lot of work in since Phase 1 in April and all the way through until now.

“I’m very confident, but that doesn’t always equal wins. I just want to go out there, compete, play good football, play the type of football I know that I’m capable of, the type of football I’ve been playing all offseason. But it’s going to be tough because we’ve got a tough matchup this week.”

INJURY REPORT: Cornerback Marshon Lattimore (knee), tackle Ryan Ramczyk (rest) and tight end Jimmy Graham (rest) were listed as limited for Wednesday’s practice. Running back Kendre Miller (knee), safety J.T. Gray (shoulder) and receiver Tre’Quan Smith (groin) didn’t practice. Ramczyk and Graham are on a maintenance schedule that likely will last throughout the season. “That was the routine we had for Ram last year, and I thought it was really effective in terms of his ability to continue to be able to go out there every game for us,” Allen said. “So, trying to give him a little bit of rest and yet, he’s a guy – and Jimmy also – both of them veteran players that we know that they’re going to get their work done and they’ll be ready to go when Sunday rolls around.”

CAPTAINS: Saints captains for the season are Carr, Gray, center Erik McCoy, defensive end Cam Jordan, linebacker Demario Davis, safety Tyrann Mathieu and long snapper Zach Wood.

“I think every one of those guys is a captain because of the way they go about doing their business on a day-in and day-out basis,” Allen said. “They’re also the ones that are there in the trying times, they’re the ones that stand up out front and kind of lead the group. So, I think all of them have the attributes to do that. They have a good pulse of the locker room and where we’re at from a locker room standpoint.”

Carr said the selection “means everything.”

“They hold it with such prestige,” Carr said. “We talked about it a lot. It was really cool to see the captains’ dinner with the team and administration and staff. What it means to be a captain here. We talk a lot about what it means to be a captain here, and it means the world to me.

“Coming to a place where – quite frankly, you leave a place where they don’t want you anymore, and you step into a place where, we want you, not only (that), we want you as our captain. All I’ve wanted to do since I got here was I wanted to earn the respect of my teammates, because everything was new for me. They kind of know me, but they don’t really know me. I just want to take that and prove them right for making that choice.”