Raiders' Lee Smith defends QB Derek Carr amid criticism

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Offering a passionate, if premeditated, speech at his locker on Wednesday afternoon, Oakland Raiders tight end Lee Smith defended his quarterback, saying criticism of Derek Carr was a "joke" while lauding his best friend's toughness.

Reports this week have suggested Carr lost the locker room after he appeared to be crying on the field after taking a hard hit to his left (non-throwing) shoulder against the Seattle Seahawks in London on Oct. 14.

"Attacking him as a leader on this football team is a joke," Smith said. "I hope everyone hears me loud and clear what a joke it is. It's frustrating, it's annoying and it's laughable and not fair to him when it is obviously not coming from inside this locker room.

"Anybody can say whatever they want. Coach (Jon) Gruden and Derek are going to take all the bullets. We are 1-5, not playing the football we want to play. Coach Gruden had a lot of expectations coming in, we had a lot of expectations coming in. I understand those two guys take most of the bullets. Those two can definitely handle it. If anybody can handle it, it's Derek Carr, based off the person he is and the character he has."

Carr also downplayed the notion that he was crying, and said he never thought he'd have to defend himself against such a claim.

"No, never," Carr said with a laugh. "I broke my back, I broke my ankle. I didn't cry then. So I guess the shoulder was really tough for me.

"My trainer actually sent some pictures of me working out, making the same faces. So I guess I cry when I train, too. It's just... it is what it is when you're losing, man."

Carr said he received messages of support from former and current teammates in the wake of the report saying the Raiders had a fractured locker room.

"Don't worry about this bullcrap," Carr said about the messages he received via text. "When you're losing, crap happens."

The Raiders are in the midst of a tear-down and rebuild, two years after winning 12 games and going to the playoffs for the first time since the 2002 season. They are one of four teams with just one victory this season, along with the New York Giants, Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers.

And after trading away fellow purported cornerstone pieces Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper, and holding five first-round draft picks over the next two years, Carr realizes no one is truly safe.

"My brother told me when I came in the NFL, if they cut Peyton Manning, they're going to cut you someday too," Carr said. "That's always a realization for anybody in our livelihood... but I'm the quarterback here today, I have confidence I'll be here tomorrow and when we turn this around. I'm very confident I'm going to be here when we do that again.

"When you get a new coach, they're going to build it the way they see fit. ... Obviously the future looks good, right? With all the money and picks. That's a positive and for me, being in my fifth year, it definitely is hard, if we're being honest... we've had to do this a couple of times in my five years."

Gruden, meanwhile, said he does not plan on trading Carr... with a caveat.

"I don't see us making any more trades; I didn't see us making a trade the other day, I really didn't," Gruden said. "Sometimes, plans change, whether you like it or not. You don't know who's going to call you, what they're going to say.

"I don't see us making any more trades, but I'll never say never again... certainly, I don't see us trading our quarterback."

And that is good news to Smith.

"To ever insinuate there is an issue inside this locker room with our leader and captain is the biggest joke I've ever seen and I've been around this league my whole life," Smith said.

"What's relevant is there is a brotherhood inside this locker room that is very special, unlike any team I've ever been a part of. The attacking of our strongest leader and strongest man in our locker room is absolutely horses---."