SANTA CLARA – Derek Carr's normally a team spokesman, both in public and private. The Raiders quarterback didn't say anything to the team right after Thursday's 34-3 blowout loss to the 49ers.
The team's starting quarterback wanted to hear what others had to say. Other veterans demanded attention then, demanding better play and a steady work ethic even with already flushed down the drain.
Carr will be watching and listening to how players respond in dire circumstances, especially after a browbeating by a terrible 49ers team where effort was questioned by outsiders in certain instances.
A strong leadership core exists, full of veterans who won't give up on a game or a disappointing season regardless of context. That was clear in the postgame locker room when it was open to media, when one player after another vowed to scratch, claw and fight despite a 1-7 record at the season's halfway point.
Carr wants to see how these players respond to adversity -- head coach/personnel czar Jon Gruden will also be taking notes -- and who wants to help this rebuilding process.
"I think, going forward, we build that trust and see who really wants to be a part of this," Carr said. "You see who really wants to be here. Who really wants to turn this thing around? Who really wants to do the hard things that no one else wants to do?
"It's easy to say, ‘Hmmm, I'll do it somewhere else.' That's easy. I think we figure out (who says that), and I think that going forward we find out who's a Raider, honestly."
Despite some struggles this season and unprecedented levels of criticism regarding Carr's performance (and leadership, in one report), Carr is committed to being central part of Gruden's master plan.
"I love this place, and I'm not going anywhere," Carr said. "I'm in it for the long haul. I want to be here, and I want to see the men who step up and say, ‘I want to do that, too.' And, just listening to some of our veterans talk, it encouraged me a lot."
Carr was asked in his postgame press conference if there was doubt whether the Raiders would be able to rebound, even in small ways after a 1-7 start. Carr doesn't doubt himself, and wants to see others pushing for improvement all year long.
"There are still eight games left, and you hope (head coach Jon Gruden and GM Reggie McKenzie) have brought in the right people, because everyone's human," Carr said. "You go through hard things and, especially nowadays, a lot of people just give up. I believe that, in talking to our leaders, no one is giving up. No one's giving in."
Defensive end Frostee Rucker, like Carr, is a team captain. He remains committed to improved results, even with admitted problems with execution. There are real depth issues here as well, but Rucker won't wave the white flag and hopes to help ensure others follow suit.
"I know guys care, because they keep coming in and working hard," Rucker said. "We don't have guys who are late to work. We don't have any of those issues. We just need to really, really need to dig in and figure out how to finish a game.
"Early in the season, we'd play well until there was two minutes left on the clock. And now we show up for a nationally televised game and play this, and that's disheartening. All we can do is come back to work and show some fight and we should be able to turn this thing around."