ALAMEDA — In a nook of the Raiders locker room, the stalls of AJ McCarron and Brandon LaFell sit facet by facet, two gamers who share the connection of getting reached absolutely the pinnacle of their sport — solely to have all the pieces come crashing down in a 1-7 season for the Raiders underneath Jon Gruden.
McCarron, 28, was the on-field chief of an Alabama workforce that went 36-Four in video games he began with back-to-back BCS nationwide championships underneath Nick Saban.
LaFell, 32, received a BCS title with LSU in 2007 and a Tremendous Bowl championship following the 2014 season with the New England Patriots, catching a landing cross from Tom Brady to open the scoring in a 28-24 win over the Seattle Seahawks. His coach was Invoice Belichick.
On condition that McCarron is the backup quarterback to Derek Carr and that LaFell has been inactive 4 instances in eight video games, it’s not as if both man goes to have something essential to say on the report.
However by the identical token, each may have taken the “if you happen to don’t have something good to say, don’t say something all of it” route and declined remark. Neither did.
McCarron, acquired for a fifth-round draft choose from Buffalo firstly of the common season, noticed his first taking part in time of the season in a 34-Three loss to the 49ers. With Carr having already been sacked seven instances, McCarron got here in to mop up, finishing 1 of three passes for eight yards and getting sacked as soon as himself.
“In fact it sucks getting in at that form of time in that state of affairs, however I at all times have enjoyable,” McCarron stated. “I really like taking part in the sport. That’s why I do it. I at all times have a smile on my face once I’m taking part in. It’s simply the way in which I’m, the way in which I’ve at all times been.”
Smiles, maybe, however the it’s been no laughing matter. LaFell was signed as a free agent on Sept. Three after having performed for Carolina, the Patriots and Cincinnati.
“It’s very tough,” LaFell stated. “I inform each man, as quickly as you win the Tremendous Bowl, the one factor you possibly can take into consideration is getting again. That’s your solely need. That’s what feeds you each day, to come back out, work each day and attempt to get again there. Having this season like we’re having proper now, it’s actually robust.”
McCarron conceded he’s somebody who hates shedding greater than he loves profitable. He received an early lesson duirng his first loss as a starter Alabama. He went to an area restaurant after shedding to LSU, and couldn’t assist however discover a youngster sitting along with his father appeared to be giving him the evil eye.
After his meal, McCarron discovered a word on his automotive from the youth, expressing his disappointment at how poorly he’d performed.
“There’s at all times going to be followers that take all the pieces to coronary heart, however that poor child took that loss fairly laborious, I suppose,” McCarron stated.
Finish outcomes apart, LaFell thinks the strategy to observe has been good and that gamers take issues significantly in Oakland a lot as they did with New England.
“In each locations we had guys that like to observe,” LaFell stated. “I inform these guys, the groups I’ve been on that received and made it to the playoffs. they didn’t thoughts working towards and working towards laborious. They didn’t thoughts doing robust issues when robust issues wanted to be accomplished.”
Whereas Alabama is among the many high recruiting colleges annually, McCarron believes it goes additional than sheer expertise.
“It’s not simply recruiting, it’s recruiting the correct guys, and that pertains to right here,” McCarron stated. “It’s about getting the kind of individuals you wish to be round, day in and time out. I can see that they’re doing that, and you’ll see coach Gru goes to have this factor on monitor.”
When it comes to drive and willpower, McCarron stated he sees a few of the identical issues in Gruden he did with Nick Saban at Alabama.
“It’s in the way in which he grinds and goes about his every day course of,” McCarron stated. “They’re completely completely different when it comes to schemes and stuff like that. Saban’s a defensive man and Gru’s an offensive man, however the way in which they grind and the way a lot they put of their craft, making an attempt to make the workforce the very best it could possibly probably be, it’s related.”
LaFell got here to the Patriots at a time when a system of strategy had already been set up, versus being on the bottom ground of the present Raiders rework.
“We’re simply getting began right here, so it’s form of laborious to match to what was constructed over there means earlier than I received there and was a 10- or 15-year course of versus coach (Gruden) simply getting right here,” LaFell stated. “I we are able to discover a solution to begin turning this round this yr, then we are able to head into the low season and simply proceed to construct from there.”