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Oakland Raiders’ Veterans Hear Critics, Thrive on Opportunity to Prove Them Wrong

April 22nd, 2014 at 4:58 PM
By Nicholas Gill

Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie used free agency to build the roster this offseason. The new Raiders took to the podium today after the team's first offseason workout and their message was very similar. They hear the critics that believe this team is old and made up of players who don't have anything left. They say this would be a great team if it was 2009. Now, the players are motivated for the opportunity to prove them wrong.

“We’re just kind of the throwaways it seems like,” Maurice Jones-Drew said. “I think what Reggie and his staff has done, I’ve said it multiple times, everybody here has something to prove. We all know we have something left, whether it was a bad year last year or things didn’t work out from another team, whatever it may be. As a whole, we’re fighting for the same thing, which is respect.”

Jones-Drew, who signed with the Raiders this offseason, will look to compete for the starting running back position along with Darren McFadden. He is one of the “washed up” players people are referring to. The 29-year-old played all eight of his NFL seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars before coming to Oakland. He has battled some injuries and a decrease in production the last two seasons. Now, he wants the opportunity to compete and prove he can play.

Wide receiver James Jones felt much like Jones-Drew does. The 30-year-old wants the opportunity to prove his doubters wrong. 

“I’m always out to prove something,” Jones said. “I have a lot of doubters, a lot of people out there talking, and it’s just an opportunity to prove people wrong. But I am excited about the opportunity. We have a lot of great guys in that room with a lot of talent and I’m excited to be a part of it.”

On the defensive side of the ball, the Raiders brought in defensive end Justin Tuck to bolster the pass rush. The 31-year-old has heard the rumblings that he is too old and came to Oakland to end his career. He is coming off a season where he produced 11 sacks, including 9.5 in the last six weeks of the season. He wants to prove he is still that player. 

“A lot of people always say that you go to Oakland for your career to die,” Tuck said. “No, I’m not looking at it like that. I’m looking at it like this is an opportunity to revive a very historic franchise in a city with a great fan base that is going to be behind this football team. The energy and excitement around this football team should be great. I’m excited about it.”

Tuck isn't about just talking. He wants to show it.

“Go watch the film last year and tell me that I can’t still play the game,” Tuck said. “Go and watch the film on all of us and tell us we can’t still play the game. I don’t really care. To me, age is a number. I’m 31, and I feel like I’m 25. For all of us though, what I’m saying right now doesn’t really mean anything until we line up in training camp and preseason and the regular season and go out there and do it.”


Tags: Darren McFadden, Football, James Jones, Justin Tuck, Maurice Jones-Drew, NFL, Oakland, Oakland Raiders, Reggie McKenzie

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