Q & A with Raiders CB Stanford Routt

Posted by: Anthony Carroll on November 1, 2007 12:57 AM

Oakland Raiders cornerback Stanford Routt knows what it takes to make it in the NFL, or any other profession, for that matter.

It’s a “fear of failure,” he says on his official Web site, SRoutt26.com. There’s “no force more powerful.”

When you become part of a team whose secondary includes five defensive backs picked in the first three rounds of the NFL draft over the past five years, you need to face that harsh reality. Routt, a second-round pick of the Raiders in 2005, wasn’t even the team’s first cornerback chosen that year. He wasn’t guaranteed anything.

That never meant he wasn’t planning on starting anytime soon, though.

It took just two seasons and two games for the Austin, Texas, native to turn an immeasurable amount of unrealized potential into a reality. A starter of just four games through his first two years in the league, Routt has now started in five of Oakland’s seven contests this season.

He hasn’t wasted any time.

Routt is the only defensive back in Oakland’s secondary with an interception this season — a shocking truth, considering five different DBs had a combined 15 picks for the Raiders just a short year ago. Already in ’07, Routt has snagged a career-high three interceptions. He has also registered 11 tackles (10 solo) and four passes defensed.

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with Routt about his journey in the NFL, his interests outside of the league and his new Web site, SRoutt26.com. Please take the time to visit the site and show your support.

Carroll: You’ve had the privilege to play alongside some very talented teammates in Nnamdi Asomugha and Fabian Washington. How has working with such gifted players helped your development as a young corner in the NFL thus far?

Routt: I think it’s really helped me out a lot in a sense. We all lean on each other for knowledge, techniques and so forth. I’ve learned a lot from Nnamdi in becoming a student of the game and Fabian from just reading and reacting to what you see. But we all pick up on certain things from each other because our strengths and weaknesses are different.

Carroll: You’ve been in the NFL for three seasons, and you’ve had a different coaching staff each year. Has that been difficult to adjust to? And how does the Lane Kiffin era compare to the Norv Turner and Art Shell regimes?

Routt: Honestly, it really hasn’t been that different for me because our defensive staff has always stayed the same for the most part. Rob Ryan (defensive coordinator) has been here all my years, so the scheme and sets have never changed. And Willie Brown (my cornerback coach) has been there as well. So I’ve been fortunate enough to have a pretty stable orientation. Lane Kiffin has a player-friendly approach to his coaching style. It’s full of energy and he thrives off of competition. Art Shell had more of an old-school demeanor that he brought to the game.

Carroll: Since you were drafted out of Houston in 2005, you’ve spent a lot of time working primarily as a nickel corner. This year, you’re beginning to split time as a starter with Fabian Washington. When do you see yourself becoming a full-time, 16-game starter in the NFL?

Routt: I see myself as a full-time starter right now. ‘Cause no matter what the situation is, I’m usually in the game. Even when my partner Fabian is in, I’m usually going to the slot playing nickel.

Carroll: How close do you feel the Raiders are to finally becoming contenders again?

Routt: The distance between your thumb and index finger. We are very close. We show it in spurts all the time. And if you can do it in spurts, then you can do it always. That’s the way I see it.

Carroll: The team’s safeties — specifically fourth-year FS Stuart Schweigert — have taken a lot of heat lately for not making the necessary or “big” plays. Being able to work so closely with both Schweigert and Michael Huff, do you believe they are being unfairly criticized?

Routt: Absolutely! It’s very unfair. They try to scrutinize a tackle they may miss here and there, but they don’t say anything about the many plays they do make. But that’s how the media is — always trying to find a story. That’s why I don’t ever look at a newspaper unless it’s in the offseason.

Carroll: Growing up, were there any particular NFL players you looked up to? Are there any players currently in the NFL you particularly look up to now or have a special bond with?

Routt: Growing up I always looked up to Deion Sanders. I can’t think of any corner in today’s game that didn’t. Now, I currently try to really study who I believe to be the top corners in today’s game — Asante Samuel, Champ Bailey, Charles Woodson — to see what makes them good and see what I can take from them. As far as special bonds go, I have that with everyone in our secondary.

Carroll: Despite working under three different head coaches, coordinator Rob Ryan has been your defensive coach since your rookie season. How has your relationship with him grown over the past three seasons? Can you envision Ryan one day becoming an NFL head coach?

Routt: My relationship with Rob Ryan is great as far as I can tell. He understands me as a player and I understand him as a coach. You just always want to play your heart out for him. I think with his passion and intensity for the game of football, he would make a great head coach someday. He’s got the pedigree in him.

Carroll: You ran the fastest 40-yard dash at the 2005 NFL combine, so you know speed. For a linebacker, how quick and athletic is Thomas Howard really?

Routt: In one word: Very! He makes so many plays from the backside with just sheer speed, it’s ridiculous. And when he drops into pass coverage, he also has a pretty mean vertical. Hence he has four INTs through just seven games. And he’s still only a second-year player!

Carroll: On your website, SRoutt26.com, you feature musical artists such as Cassidy, Nas, Kanye West, Nelly and Jay-Z. Are these the artists who prepare you mentally for the games on Sundays? Do you have any other special pre-game rituals?

Routt: Yes. I definitely love all those guys. You can throw T.I. and Young Jeezy in there as well. As far as pre-game rituals go, I always pray in the end zone and send a kiss to heaven for my grandmother.

Carroll: While I’m on the topic, are you excited for Jay-Z’s release of his next album, “American Gangster,” on Nov. 6?

Routt: Definitely. Will be there bright and early to pick it up. Very, very big fan.

Carroll: Tell us a little more about the Routt 2 Success™ Foundation and how people can contribute to this great cause.

Routt: Well, growing up as a kid I feel what helped me most from staying out of trouble was that I was always involved in sports and I was too busy to get caught up in all the negative things kids get into after school (drugs, alcohol, gangs, etcetera). And my program has a mission to provide kids with positive activities to do after school to keep them away from the pitfalls of being a teen in our society. It is especially geared toward kids with single parents. They have it the toughest. I just adore kids and I want to see them succeed in life and not sell themselves short in any way. Whether we want to accept it or not, they are our future.

(For more information on the Routt 2 Success™ Foundation, a non-profit organization, contact r2sfoundation@sroutt26.com.)

Carroll: Time to put you on the spot: How many interceptions will you finish the year with?

Routt: At least three. I’ll say that much …

Please take a moment to visit Stanford Routt’s official site, SRoutt26.com — featuring post-game audio blogs by Routt himself, mobile updates, media galleries and much more.

~ by Sactown Raider Boosters on November 1, 2007.

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