Derek Carr has been around for quite some time now. He’s shared the field with more than a few teammates, and he’s pretty much seen it all in the eight years he’s been in the league. Be that as it may, there are still some things that continue to amaze the Las Vegas Raiders star quarterback.

In a recent interview, Carr heaped praise on teammate Lester Cotton. The 26-year-old former Alamaba standout is not exactly a household name, and he’s been on quite a journey in and out of the lineup for the Raiders. Through all the hardships and trials, however, Cotton has just kept on working. This is exactly why Carr has nothing but good things to say about Cotton (via Mark Inabinett of AL.com):

“I’m so proud of Lester,” Carr said. “He – how do I say it? – when he first came in, one of the first questions he asked me, he says – this was in Alameda – he says, ‘What do I need to do to be your starting guard?’ That’s what he asked me. And I was like, ‘What a question.’ And I said, ‘Man, just keep working your butt off.’ At the time, you can look back and see who we had there. That was going to be hard for him.

“But I told Lester when we were walking to our cars the other day, I said, ‘Lester, I’m so proud of you because through the cuts, through the re-signings, through the this, through the that, all this kind of new schemes, you have done nothing but put your head down. You’ve been in there with (strength and conditioning coach) A.J. Neibel, you’ve worked your butt off, and now you’re getting reps and all these kind of things.’ And I said, ‘You look good, man. You’re doing some good things.’”

After being cut from the team no less than four times over the past three years, Cotton is now on the brink of securing a starting spot for the Raiders. Finally, all the hard work this man has put in through the years seems to be finally paying off — and teammate Derek Carr could not be more proud.

Las Vegas head coach Josh McDaniels himself has taken notice of Cotton’s impressive work ethic. The Raiders shot-caller isn’t ready to hand over the starting gig to Cotton just yet, but at this point, he’s definitely in the running:

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“The Lester Cotton that I know from this offseason and now going into training camp, he just works hard. He’s been in condition. He’s gotten stronger. He did a tremendous job in our offseason program,” McDaniels said. “… Lester knows that he’s competing just like everybody else is. But really excited for the growth that I’ve seen in him and the growth that I’ve heard from people that were with him before that is happening right in front of our eyes.”

These are the type of feel-good narratives that should be celebrated more in the NFL. Lester Cotton just never gave up on his dream, and now his true underdog story is about to reach its climax.