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New Orleans Saints quarterback Derek Carr brushing up on lingo, settling in as team leader

'We are trying to win a championship'

It's just the verbiage that Derek Carr needs to brush up on. The rest of him looked fine as he took snaps Tuesday as the New Orleans Saints' new starting quarterback during the first of the team's 10 organized team activities (OTA) workouts.

"It's a new system, new words," said Carr, who played his first nine NFL seasons with the Raiders. "A lot of similarities to things that I grew up on and I believe in. It's still a learning curve, but it's not as big of a curve as it could be in a different system or a different offense.

"Me, today, it was just trying to have clear communication, get in and out of the huddle, doing all the little things right. There's been a lot of hard work on doing that, but it's just Day 1. We've got more work to do, but it was a good start."

Coach Dennis Allen agreed, saying the veteran quarterback will adapt to running familiar plays with different terminology.

"I thought he did a pretty good job of getting in and out of the huddle," Allen said. "I thought he was good with his reads, knew where to go with the ball. The execution was fairly decent, and yet I think collectively on both sides of the ball, we've got to be a little cleaner.

"I think any time you're doing something new there's a learning curve to it. He's been around a lot of football, he's been in a lot of offensive systems. Probably as much as anything it's just some terminology stuff that he's got to get used to. It's a different language, so he's kind of learning a different language right now. But I think he's working extremely hard at it.

"It certainly is easier when you're a veteran guy and have seen similar concepts, similar offensive systems. I think him being a part and seeing so many different things, it's really more about getting accustomed to the verbiage and the language. Because everybody does things just a little bit differently, but typically, everything is pretty similar."

For Carr, Tuesday provided even more validation for his choice as an unrestricted free agent. He became the Raiders' all-time leader in every major passing category before the franchise chose to cut bait after last season.

"You talk to (offensive coordinator) Pete Carmichael for five minutes, you fall in love with the guy. You talk to R.C. (quarterbacks coach Ronald Curry) and you're learning and fall in love with him. (Offensive assistant) D.J. (Williams), teammates, all these things.

"I've known D.A. (Dennis Allen) for 10 years and you get around it and you're like, 'Man, this is what I believe in, this is what I wanted to be a part of.' This organization, the family dynamic, the togetherness that they build every single day that you see from the top down, that's special. That doesn't just happen overnight. That's years of work.

"So the foundation and the culture is already laid, I've just got to come in and be me. I've just been a fly on the wall, being encouraging and being a leader and doing those things when I need to be and saying something when I need to say something. But I've honestly enjoyed my time just getting to be me again. I think being in this building has rejuvenated me. It's been a breath of fresh air for me. I never wanted to leave Las Vegas, but when I walked into this building after the last couple of months, I'm like, man, I'm glad I'm here."

Being here, in the Saints' quarterback room that includes Jameis Winston and rookie Jake Haener, has kept Carr focused on the main goal.

"We are trying to win a championship," he said. "We are trying to win games. I try to express that as much as I can in that room.

"Quarterback is a weird position because only one guy plays. In the other rooms, a lot of guys play at certain times. But it's a team sport, you can't do it by yourself. There's something that Jameis has in his experience where he's seen something where he's going to be like, 'Dude, this is going to help us.' And I'll be like, 'Yeah, I didn't see that. Thank you. I've never seen that.' You just learn from each other and you just grow and you push and compete."

New Orleans Saints players participated in the team's 2023 OTA practices on May 23, 2023 at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center.

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