The Oakland Raiders made the playoffs this year for the first time since 2002, but they’ll always wonder what might have been had Derek Carr not broken his leg in a Week 16 win over Indianapolis.
“It was tough,” Raiders running back DeAndre Washington said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “Whenever you lose your leader, the impact he meant to our team, it was definitely tough. But I think that’s why we drafted guys like Connor (Cook) to come in and fill those voids. It wasn’t the outcome we wanted in the playoff game, but I definitely think we took some steps over the course of the year that we can take into next season.”
The Raiders lost their final two games without Carr: at Denver in the regular-season finale and at Houston in the Wild Card playoffs. Washington is from Houston and played that game in front of many of his friends and family.
“It was a good environment,” he said. “Like I said, I would have much (rather) come out with a win, but just that whole experience – a lot of veterans have told me it’s hard to make the playoffs in this league, let alone make the Super Bowl. So to make the playoffs in your first season is definitely something I’ll always remember.”
Washington, 23, was a fifth-round pick out of Texas Tech last April. He rushed 87 times for 467 yards (5.4 yards per carry) and two touchdowns as a rookie.
The NFL, he learned, is very different from college.
“I think the biggest thing was just understanding that you’re going in there to take somebody’s job,” Washington said. “I wouldn’t say it’s disheartening, but a lot of these guys have families and all, but at the end of the day, it’s just business. In college, you understand a lot of guys (are) with you on scholarship and you’re going to be there regardless. I think the biggest thing going into the league is you never know. You might be locker buddies with somebody one day and (then) it’s somebody totally different (the next day). So that’s the biggest thing – understanding this is your job, this is your everyday living now. That was the biggest difference.”