There are 27 rookies on your roster, how are they coming along Coach?
Coach Allen: “Well you know, it’s the first day. I’ve been pleased up to this point, with the offseason conditioning program, with the OTAs, minicamp, and now the first day of training camp. I’ve been pleased with the progress so far. They’re rookies, and they have a long way to go and we have a lot of work we need to get done, but they’re working extremely hard to get those things accomplished. We’ve got some young players on this team, and this training camp is the time to develop those players. I’m looking forward to seeing how they come along through the next, really, six weeks getting ready for the upcoming season.”
On CB DJ [Hayden] today, how limited is he?
Coach Allen: “Yeah, basically what we’re going to do with DJ is … It’s been nine, 10 months since he actually played football. He missed the offseason program and most of all of OTAs and minicamp. So we want to work him back into football condition. We’re going to limit some of the contact drills we do with him and really bring him along. I don’t know if I’d say slowly, but we’re not just going to throw him into the fire right away.”
He [Hayden] seemed active today…
Coach Allen: “Oh yeah, he seemed active, and he can run around and do all those things. He’s not really limited from a physical standpoint. But again, when a guy hasn’t played football in that long, and now all of a sudden you’re asking him to stop and start, all those kinds of things, he’s got to get into football shape and football condition, physically and mentally. When you draft a guy like that, that has the talent that he has, and we expect him to help our football team, you have to be smart and do the right things, and bring him along and let him get acclimated.”
He was actually on the field, is he still on that NFI [Non-Football Injury] list?
Coach Allen: “No, he was cleared this morning.”
How cautious do you want to be with him?
Coach Allen: “Well I think we’re going to evaluate him as he goes along, and we’ll see how cautious we need to be. But from a medical standpoint, we really don’t see any challenges. I think his mindset is that he’s ready to roll.”
What happened between yesterday and today? Did he pass a physical?
Coach Allen: “Yeah, I mean really, the NFI was more of a precautionary thing. We put him through a workout yesterday just to make sure and evaluated how he responded this morning, and he was fine so we cleared him to play.”
He was obviously limited physically over the offseason, mentally where is he at?
Coach Allen: “Yeah I think mentally as far as being ready to play football, he’s ready. But mentally as far as understanding what to do in the game of pro football, he’s got a long way to go. So this training camp, as it is with all rookies, is going to be important for him.”
It seemed the same way for
Coach Allen: “Well, I think you got to take each individual case, you have to take each individual on a case-to-case basis. Charles has played a lot of football at a really high level, so I’m not really worried about Charles Woodson. I think when time comes to tee it up and play football he’s going to be ready to go.”
What impressed you overall today during the first practice?
Coach Allen: “I thought we ran the football well. I think the offensive line did a nice job. I think the backs did an excellent job being able to run the football, and that’s something we’re going to be able to have to do. Darren is one of our most explosive players and we got to put him in positions so he can have success.”
When do you actually pad up for the first time?
Coach Allen: “We’ve got two days of acclimation period where we’ll practice like we did today. I’m already in camp mode so I forget what day it is. Sunday is when we’ll actually pad up.”
How different does it feel here for you, coming into it the second time?
Coach Allen: “Anytime you start something new and you’re a first time head coach, there are a lot of things you may not foresee. And being the fact I’ve gone through it a year, I think I’m a little more ready for the challenges that I’m going to face and I understand and can look in the future and see the things I’m going to have to deal with.”
Are you delegating more?
Coach Allen: “Oh I don’t know if I’d say I’m delegating more, but I would say I got a coaching staff I feel a lot of confidence in, and this is the second year, at least defensively for those guys in the same system and feel really comfortable with the way they’re coaching these guys.”
How much tangible improvement do you feel the team needs to make for you, for your bosses?
Coach Allen: “You know, I’m really not concerned about anything other than I want these guys to come out here and work their tail off to be the best football players they can be. We’ll deal with the evaluation process when that’s all said and done, but our focus right now is how can we be the best football team we can be this year.”
There are organizations that rank a lot of things out there, and the Raiders are coming in at the bottom on various things. I’m just wondering, do you guys ignore that? Do you address it in any way? Do you use it as motivation?
Coach Allen: “We can’t concern ourselves with what’s in the outside world. All we can concern ourselves with is the guys that are in that locker room, the coaching staff, the front office, the owners and the Raiders organization. That’s what we concern ourselves with. We’re not going to concern ourselves or pay attention to what anybody on the outside might think or say.”
Is it a matter of [Menelik] Watson and [Pat] Sims passing a physical?
Coach Allen: “Well, when they’re ready to roll, they’ll be out there practicing.”
Are they long term? Are they expected to pass it?
Coach Allen: “I mean, who knows? I don’t know the answer to that. I know they’re working extremely hard to get themselves ready to go. They’ve got injuries, and when they’re healthy enough to practice, they’ll be out there.”
What do you want to see from QB
Coach Allen: “Well same things I’ve been saying. Terrelle’s got to continue to develop as a quarterback. You see tangible evidence at times of things that he does and does really well. He’s got a great skill set. He’s an extremely athletic quarterback. He’s got to continue to work in the passing game and make sure he understands the reads so he can get the ball out on time, go to the right place with the football and then be able to use his skills as an athletic quarterback to create problems for the defense.”
Does he have a considerable way to go on the learning curve?
Coach Allen: “I think we’ll evaluate that as we go through training camp. Today was Day One. But yeah, I think all of us have a long way to go. We’re not ready to go yet, but that’s why you have training camp. To get ourselves ready to go, everybody on the football team.”
We all know how valuable each one of these sessions are. How much of a setback is it not having Watson out on the field?
Coach Allen: “Well I think any time, whether you’re a rookie or a veteran, any missed time will set you back. The key is how fast we can get him back out here ready to go and how well does he keep himself in it mentally as he’s going through the rehab process.”
Before his injury, Watson was looking really good. How big for the team would it be to get him back to where it looked like he was going?
Coach Allen: “I think it would be big. I think having him out there, you know he’s an explosive player, so being able to have him out there helps are football team. Any time we can get explosive athletes, weapons, and especially a guy like him, I think that helps our team.”
What did you see from
Coach Allen: “I think there were some good things that he did. I still think we have to be more consistent in all aspects of our football team, but really specifically in the passing game. We’ve got to continue to improve, and I think he did some nice things, made some nice reads, made a couple really good throws today.”
As far as [quarterback] snaps during camp, are you going to try and give a fairly even split to the three guys?
Coach Allen: “Yeah, I think initially early on in camp, you want to give everybody an opportunity. So right now, as we go through camp, we’re kind of on an even rotation, and not specifically the quarterback position, but with all positions. At some point in camp we’ll start getting ready with some of the front-line guys.”
Coach, when you say more consistent, what do you mean by that? What kind of consistency are you looking for?
Coach Allen: “Now I’m not talking specifically the quarterback. I’m talking about the passing game in general, and everybody’s involved in that. The wide receivers are involved in that. The tight ends are involved in that. The running backs are involved in that. We’ve got to understand what the concepts are that we’re trying to get executed, and we’ve got to be able to execute them when you get moving pieces on the field. That’s all the things that you face when you have inexperienced players. And when I say that, you know Matt Flynn, he’s been in this league for a while but when you talk about game experience, he’s relatively young at the position. So we’re going to continue to evaluate things as they go along and see how things go and change.”
In your experience, do you see a big leap typically over this month?
Coach Allen: “Well yeah, I mean I think the more you become familiar with what we’re asking you to do and the offensive scheme. You know the improvement, I think that’s really when it starts to occur.”
Coach, one of the units that has a lot of new pieces is the secondary. You got a few new guys out there like
Coach Allen: “Well I think it’s an improved group to start with. I think we’ve got some veteran players in there that understand how to play the game. They’ve played this game at a high level. I think there’s some leadership back there in the back end. And really when you look at this league, I mean this league has become a passing league. To have success on defense, you have to be strong at the back end, and I think that’s one of the things we addressed this offseason.”
Does it give you some level of comfort to have a history and experience with some of those guys that we brought in?
Coach Allen: “Yeah, absolutely. I’ve been to war with a couple of those guys. I’ve been through battle with a couple of them. Won a World Championship with a few of those guys, so I understand what they can do, and I understand what their value is to this football team.”
What were your thoughts generally on the defense today? It looked like a number of players made big plays. Was that a surprise for day one of camp?
Coach Allen: “No, I mean I think when you look at training camp, what you hope you see is some balance. You hope you see the defense make a few plays, you hope you see the offense make a few plays, because that’s when you have a good football team. We want to be a really good defensive football team. We want to fly around, and we want to be a good offensive football team. Today was the first step in that direction.”
Coach Allen: “Tracy and I have talked about it and really at the end of the day we’re ready to move on to football. That’s the least of our challenges right now.”
Is there a tone or a general theme you’d like to set for this camp that you want your guys to buy into?
Coach Allen: “Yeah, I’ve talked to our team about competing. In everything that you do, you’ve got to compete. And I talked to them about winning. I mean winning is important. We set that mindset that those things are a habit. You create good habits or bad habits every day you come out here. We’ve got to understand how to play this game at a championship level and how to win. I’m not talking about just on Sundays in the games. I’m talking about out here on the practice field. It’s about winning your match up on every single play.”
What were your impressions of [K Sebastian] Janikowski’s tackling points?
Coach Allen: “I’d rather see him kick it.”