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QB Derek Carr well known to Bucs' Tedford

FAIRHOPE, Ala.

At a time where other elite quarterback prospects are skipping showcase games, Fresno State's Derek Carr isn't just here at Senior Bowl practice, but staying late for extra reps.

Monday's South practice ended, with players boarding buses to their hotels and others lining up at autograph tables, but Carr walked to the other end of the field — complete with a pirate ship behind the end zone — for five minutes of throws with Vanderbilt receiver Jordan Matthews, a mix of quick slants and fades to the corner of the end zone.

Carr, 6 feet 3 and 218 pounds, just finished a prolific senior season — 5,082 yards and 50 touchdowns with just eight interceptions.

He's touted among the top quarterbacks in the draft, showing up in the first round of many mainstream mock drafts.

There's a strong personal connection between Carr and the Bucs. Tampa Bay's new offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford has been a close family friend since Derek's brother David played for him as a freshman when Tedford was quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator at Fresno State in 1997.

"I know Coach Tedford very well. I have nothing but high praise for him," Carr said, signing autographs after his extended practice.

"If I kept praising him, you wouldn't have any space to write. Him and my dad taught me football. We're pretty much family. We're close to each other."

Derek was 6 years old when David played under Tedford, and he'd show up after practices with his father, Rodger, tiny football in hand.

"Jeff would say, 'Derek, did you bring your football?' " their father remembers.

"Jeff had him out there, doing the footwork drills, dropping back, throwing at targets, dropping balls in trash cans. Jeff's been a part of the family for a long time."

During this past season, Tedford, out of coaching after being fired at Cal, attended one of Carr's home games with David, offering to help coach Derek. He accepted, and the two spent a few days together after Fresno's season and before Tedford joined the Bucs staff.

David Carr fell short of the high expectations of a No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 draft.

He was the Texans starter for five years with a 22-53 record, then a backup for another six, finishing his career with 65 touchdowns and 71 interceptions.

His NFL career ended this fall with his release by the Giants, but it gave him time to attend Derek's home games, watching on the sideline.

Rodger can remember when David was a rookie and Derek was in sixth grade, seeing them watch hours of game tape together at home.

"The whole process, Dave's already been there. It's a tremendous help," their father said.

The two share a fierce competitive drive, which is why Carr jumped at the chance to prove himself this week in the Senior Bowl, knowing his brother's experiences in the draft process can help him navigate the same questions and scrutiny.

He welcomes lining up against top draft competition and other elite quarterbacks this week.

"I wanted to show I'll come out here and compete against the best," Carr said.

"Today, I wanted to show I can throw all the NFL routes: the deep outs from under center, the naked bootlegs from under center, the run checks."

Could Carr be a match for the Bucs?

The team first has to decide if it believes in Mike Glennon, who had 19 touchdown passes as a rookie in 2013, as a future starter.

The Bucs have the seventh pick in the draft, and Carr has been projected as high as eighth (by SI.com, to the Vikings), while others have him late in the first round; ESPN's Mel Kiper didn't have Carr in his initial mock draft released last week.

Helped by his brother's experience in the draft process and the NFL, Derek Carr has an opportunity this week to improve that draft stock, and potentially reunite him with a Bucs coach who helped teach him how to be a quarterback.

"I know how the business works," Carr said. "I'm going to continue to be myself, not to get too high or get too low."

QB Derek Carr well known to Bucs' Tedford 01/20/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 21, 2014 12:16am]
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