OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- As defensive coordinator Dean Pees made his opening comments during the Baltimore Ravens' introductory news conference with new cornerback Brandon Carr, a theme for the day was evident.
"One of the biggest things about this guy is -- you talk about dependability," Pees said. He then turned to Carr and asked, "You ever missed a game?" Carr confirmed that, since entering the league in 2008, he had not. "Never," Pees said. "I mean, that's rare. What, nine years?"
And with that, Carr and head coach John Harbaugh began furiously tapping the table they were seated behind to indicate they were "knocking on wood."
Pees laughed. "I know. ... That's incredible."
It was clear a significant part of the reason the Ravens chose to sign the veteran defensive back to a four-year contract March 16 (Carr officially inked the deal March 20) was because of his durability. Carr has played in 144 consecutive games, third-most among active cornerbacks. Even more incredibly, he has started all 144 during his time with the Dallas Cowboys (and before that the Kansas City Chiefs), the longest active streak among NFL corners. In fact, the second-longest active streak for starts by a NFL corner is just 96, belonging to Arizona Cardinal Patrick Peterson.
So just how has the soon-to-be-31-year-old managed to keep himself on the field?
"[There are] some times that I don't even know how I do it myself," Carr said.
He has his theories, however. The theories include living right.
"My preparation throughout the offseason, throughout the season, taking care of my body, just keeping a balance in my life with family, friends, football and my faith -- just trying to stay on top of injuries," Carr said.
But also, perhaps something slightly more divine.
"I always give praise and give credit to God, first and foremost," he said.
And he admitted the circumstances may be nothing more than good fortune and, perhaps, idiocy.
"Different injuries that I won't talk about -- I just keep playing through them," Carr said. "Sometimes it's just the luck of the draw, and sometimes it's just [me] out there being stupid and playing through whatever is going on. But if I can go out there and play and give you something, then I'm going to go out there and suit up and give you what I have."
That stick-to-itiveness was significant in the eyes of Carr's new head coach. The Ravens have missed top corner Jimmy Smith due to injuries for 13 games between the last two seasons, and he's played hurt during others. Harbaugh clearly believes Carr can provide stability to the secondary.
"You can't do any better than Brandon's done," Harbaugh said. "There's a reason for that. Sure, luck comes into it, and you do knock on wood and laugh about those kind of things. But what Brandon's talking about in terms of taking care of himself and taking a holistic approach to what he does, that's made a difference for him. I think the biggest indicator of future behavior or success is past behavior and success. He's proven that already."
But Carr doesn't take it for granted. He admitted to having plenty of close calls through the years where he wasn't certain he'd be able to play.
"Many of times," Carr said. "My parents got to see it firsthand; they finally started coming to the house for games, and just to see my process -- from Monday [and] Tuesday of whatever nagging injury, to moving slowly around the house, to getting to Saturday and especially on Sunday, to going out there and just foolishly be like nothing's wrong -- that just kind of blew their mind."
And with his new team expecting (and probably needing) him to be just as available as he's been up to this point in his career, the former Grand Valley State Laker says he'll continue doing the same things that have gotten him to this point.
"I just keep a lot of people in my life outside of the staff [trainers] that help me keep the upkeep of my body," Carr said. "And also just the nutrition -- I have a wife that cooks and takes care of me. Just taking care of your body. This is my moneymaker for however many more years. So I just make sure I do all I can to make sure it lasts longer."