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News

"All games are important"

Posted Aug 19, 2014

Offensive coordinator Greg Olson spoke to the media after Tuesday's practice as the Raiders get ready to head to Green Bay.

Q: Going through a season where you only lined up the same offensive line three times in a row the entire year, and having eight different combinations … What advantage has it been that since training camp has started you’ve been lining up the same five guys?

Coach Olson: “Knock on wood, it’s been very encouraging. I think [assistant head coach/offensive line coach] Tony [Sparano]and I looked at it that a year ago in the second preseason game, we had made three changes into the second preseason game. That’s been very encouraging, really for the entire offensive overall. We’ve managed to stay away from the injury bug. We’ll keep our fingers crossed that we continue that way.”

Q: At that position especially …

Coach Olson: “Oh yeah, when you have five guys working together and the communication that’s required to play up front, it helps everybody involved. It helps the running backs. It helps the quarterbacks. That group in particular, because they all have to be in conjunction with one another. They all have to be on the same page. Besides the fact that we’ve stayed healthy there, they’ve also are really a veteran group of guys. That’s been a bonus for us, as well.”

Q: Seems like your interior running game, especially between guard and center, has been pretty effective. Is that encouraging?

Coach Olson: “Yeah, when you look at us, we’re a big front right now. We’re a big offensive line. We try to play to their strengths and the running back strengths and we think that they match up well. Their size, ability to move people off the ball, coupled with Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden’s running style, we think that will help the running game.”

Q: What do you still need to see from James Jones?

Coach Olson: “For him, he’s playing more within the system. He’s doing fine. There’s not a lot that we really need to feel like we have to see from James Jones. He’s a veteran player. He knows what he needs to do to get ready for the regular season. He’s been great in the wide receiver room. For us, let’s get through these next two weeks and let’s make sure he’s fresh and ready to go for the opening game against the Jets.”

Q: Technically with him being the backup on the depth chart, is there something you didn’t see in him?

Coach Olson: “No, we moved him up. Again, there’s a deep group there at wide receiver. It’s great competition right now. We’ve seen some guys and we just wanted to give him an opportunity to step in to the ‘one offense,’ which we did last week when we started him. We just want to keep the competition level high there, until someone separates themselves. That’s been it more than anything; that we feel like there is a number of guys there that are very close in skill level so we wanted to give him an opportunity as well to jump in with the ‘one offense.’

Q: Do you know how you’re going to work the wide receivers in this game?

Coach Olson: “It will be the same starting two that we had last week.”

Q: What have you seen from Gabe Jackson, especially the times when he got time with the ones?

Coach Olson: “He’s real powerful. He’s got excellent feet. He’s an excellent puller. On the double-teams, he’s extremely powerful. He picked up the system very fast. I think that’s been a plus for him. I know Tony has been real happy with that, the way that he’s been able to absorb the information that’s been given to him in the short amount of time that he’s been here.  He’s worked in there and done a nice job as a rookie.”

Q: Talk about putting Derek Carr in with the first unit there in the second quarter. How do you think he faired overall?

Coach Olson: “I was happy. We felt like the one O-line needed more work, but we wanted to get Matt [Schaub] out. So, we thought we should put Derek in there and let him operate with that one offensive line. I thought he did fine. I think it was good for him to be in that group. He, again, has done some good things and it was just a chance for him to get in there and work with that group and step into the huddle and address a bunch of veteran players and a bunch of guys that have played a lot of games. It was a good learning experience for him.”

Q: How do you account for the pressure that occurred last game against the offensive line? Was it blitzing that you weren’t game-planning for?

Coach Olson: “We had one missed defensive line game on a third down. But, the other two pressures was an empty pressure in which there is a player unaccounted for that Matt Schaub needed to recognize. He didn’t recognize it until it was too late. We got blitzed on every third down, which is common. He needed to recognize that a little sooner and that, to the naked eye, looked like our O-line is letting a guy come free. That’s on the quarterback because that’s an empty protection. The other one, we had a cut block where we missed the cut block. We’ve just got to get better with our technique and the execution at parts.”

Q: How will you work your quarterbacks in this game?

Coach Olson: “The ones will have significant playing time. We’d like to see them through the first half, maybe into the third quarter. Then, we’d bring in the No. 2 quarterback after that.”

Q: Is Matt Schaub making every throw that he’s always made throughout the years in Houston? Is his arm the same?

Coach Olson: “I wasn’t around Matt Schaub in Houston. From what I see on tape, I think he’s similar to what he has been and what he is. Kind of like they say, he is what he is. I haven’t seen significant loss of arm strength in the time that he’s been here.”

Q: How beneficial is it to have a guy like Marcel Reece that is so versatile?

Coach Olson: “Obviously it’s very encouraging. There’s a lot of things that you can do with him. We’ve got to keep him healthy as well, moving forward.”

Q: What have you thought of Matt Schaub over the last couple of weeks? Is he making the strides that you would hope?

Coach Olson: “To me, the biggest thing with Matt is the decision making. After the last season, is he making the right decisions? He had one ball last week on a hitch route where a corner drove and it had a chance to get intercepted. He lost vision of the corner so, to me, that wasn’t a decision on his part. Unless you see a corner, you better make sure before you throw it. Other than that, he hasn’t been forcing the ball which has been a plus. He’s making good decisions. As I said earlier, he missed an all-out blitz inside and an empty protection last week. That will come, in my opinion. He knew it the minute he came off to the sideline. He’s been good that way. I think his confidence is up. We haven’t seen, throughout training camp, a bunch of ill-faded decisions so that’s been a plus.”

Q: He sure made a tackle on the tipped ball interception. Are you OK with that?

Coach Olson: “After last season, you’re thinking ‘this isn’t going to go back for a touchdown.’ The guy’s first time in front of the home crowd and that’s what almost happened. It was encouraging to see Donald Penn really go down there and make the play. But yeah, he’s a competitive guy. I wouldn’t expect anything less from any of our quarterbacks. If that happens, a lot of times they are the last line of defense. The only guys that can catch those guys on the field normally are your wide receivers, a running back or a quarterback. In this case, with Schaub’s speed, you’re really hoping there. We were certainly happy and I’d be disappointed if he didn’t react that way. When they throw an interception, they better become a defender quickly.”

Q: I know Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen make the decisions, but are you set on keeping three quarterbacks?

Coach Olson: “I know we have three very talented players. That decision is above my pay grade. I like the quarterback room right now. I think they’re all capable players that can play in the National Football League.”

Q: In terms of really seeing where Schaub is, how important is this third preseason game?

Coach Olson: “All games are important. This week is, we’re playing a real quality opponent in the Green Bay Packers. They’ve got one of the better defensive lines that we’ll see. They’ve got a real strong secondary. I think Sam Shields is one of the better corners in the league that we’ll get a chance to play against. I think it’s going to be a great test for our offense, period, to kind of gauge where we’re at. We’re excited. Is it important? Yeah, it’s important. Every game is important. Every practice is important at this point for us. It gives our guys a chance to be in the huddle together with a bunch of new faces. The more they can play together, the better off we’ll be when the regular season starts.”

Q: Who would you say are the wide receivers after Rod Streater at this point? What are you looking for from them?

Coach Olson: “Really, we’re looking for more consistency than anything. I feel like we’re close. We’ve had a number of drops throughout training camp. It hasn’t been one player in particular, but as a group we need to catch the ball better consistently, in my opinion. They are working hard and they are competing, which is a big part of the evaluation phase. If you had a bunch of guys that weren’t competing, that would be an issue. But right now, they’re competing and we’re just going to look for a little bit more consistency as we get closer to the regular season.”