HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) — Gerald McCoy knew he was at the point where many NFL careers end.
The veteran defensive tackle ruptured his quad tendon during training camp with the Dallas Cowboys last year. He hasn’t played since, but the Las Vegas Raiders took a chance on him and signed him last week.
“I’ve been a fighter my whole life,” McCoy said Tuesday. “The goal always was to come back. I knew immediately, as soon as I got hurt, especially with a leg injury, 32 years old, been in the league 11 years, people immediately assume that’s it.”
The 6-foot-4, 300-pound McCoy has vowed not to take his latest opportunity for granted.
“Because you never know. As much as you want to fight to get back, somebody has to give you an opportunity,” said McCoy, who has made six Pro Bowls and was a first-team All-Pro in 2013. “The Raiders did that, and it’s such a blessing. It’s a privilege to be here.”
Drafted third overall by Tampa Bay in 2010, McCoy spent his first nine seasons with the Buccaneers. He played for Carolina in 2019.
The Raiders signed him to bring depth to their defensive line and leadership to their young unit. McCoy’s influence has already been felt during meetings.
“The guy looks in incredible shape,” said defensive end Carl Nassib, who played with McCoy in Tampa Bay. “The guy takes up a lot of attention. He looks great. Really excited to have him here, get him back on the field. He’s a great guy, great player, too.”
The Raiders’ other 14 defensive linemen in camp average 3.7 years of experience between them.
McCoy, meanwhile, has 59 1/2 sacks in 139 career games.
“I always believe there’s a difference in being a professional and being a pro,” said McCoy, who was one of nine players with at least five sacks every season from 2012-19. “Once you sign a contract in the NFL you’re a professional. It doesn’t make you a pro. Being a pro is how you approach every day, how you prepare, how you watch film, what do you when times get tough on the field, what are you eating, how are you learning how to be successful in this league — that’s what I believe is being a pro.
“Not all professionals know how to be pros. So my experience I can help a lot of the young guys, and even some of the experienced guys.”
McCoy said he believes the Raiders can surprise people this season and he’s looking forward to the team’s preseason opener against Seattle.
“The four most historic franchises in NFL history — the Packers, Dallas, Pittsburgh and the Raiders — that’s what I say,” McCoy said. “So to have an opportunity to be a part of one of those organizations, and to see how the fans are when they show up for just a practice, I cannot wait for the first preseason game all the way to opening day.
“I’m extremely excited.”
NOTES: Tight end Darren Waller missed his sixth straight practice, but was on a practice field doing exercises with a trainer. … Kicker Daniel Carlson, who’s on the COVID-19 reserve list, stood at the door of the weight room that overlooks the practice fields, in full uniform watching from afar.
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL