How would you describe that competition, fierce? Everybody’s into it and ready to go?
Coach Allen: “Yeah, I mean obviously everybody knows what’s at stake, and we have 88 guys out here trying to make a football team. We’re trying to develop the foundation of this football team and what we’re going to be this year and guys are working towards that goal.”
I don’t know how much you hear or read but there are a lot of guys hurt around the league today. First off, are you aware of that, and if you are, does that get taken into account on how you approach things out here? Might you scale it back?
Coach Allen: “No, we pay attention to what’s going on with our football team and what the injury situations are with our football team, what type of condition our guys are in, and we’ll take that on a day-by-day basis. If we feel like our football team is dragging and there’s a chance we might have some injuries, we may cut back but this is a tough game and unfortunately injuries are part of the game and they occur, and really at the end of the day you have to have the next man up philosophy, and you have to deal with those hurdles when they come up.”
What did you see that you liked from
Coach Allen: "Well, he’s a big powerful guy. We signed him, giving him an opportunity to come in here and compete, a chance to make this football team. I see him playing inside as a center, guard combination type of player and I thought for the first day, I’ll have to look at the tape, but I thought he was OK.”
Coach Allen: “Listen, it’s Day Two. I’m not ready to get into who’s creating separation and who’s creating distance, but I’ve been very impressed with Matt Flynn. I’ve been impressed with his demeanor. He’s made some nice throws, some nice reads, and really I think he’s done a nice job with the first offense.”
I remember we talked to
“Darren’s always been a guy that comes to work every day and no matter what the circumstances are, he’s going to continue to go out there and compete. I think it’s obvious that he feels more comfortable in a downhill type of scheme, and so we’re going to try to put him in those positions as much as possible because he is an explosive player for us.”
There are possibly nine new starters on defense. What makes
Coach Allen: “I’m extremely confident in Nick. Since Day One, since we brought him in, really from the day he came in on his visit, I’ve been very impressed with him as a young man. The way he goes about his business, he’s extremely smart, he understands the defense, and he has athletic ability. He’s just as good against the run as he is the pass, when you watch him when he was in Chicago he was an outstanding player in Chicago. It was unfortunate for him he happened to be in the shadow of Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher, but I think he’s an outstanding player and I’m looking forward to big things out of him.”
He’s [Roach] a guy that came in, made a team as a practice squad player to start, worked his way up, is there something there you can see? Do you see character come through in a guy like that?
Coach Allen: “Well absolutely. I talk about guys we want on this football team, that love football, that are willing to work, that are going to put the team first, and he epitomizes all three of those characteristics. The guy comes to work with his lunch pail every day, and he understands the role we’re asking him to play on this defense, and that’s to take a leadership role on this defense, to get us in the right positions on every single play and he’s really taken a hold of that role and really embraced that role.”
What are the biggest hurdles when, as you said, no one has really played with each other?
Coach Allen: “Well, I think it’s just getting to know each other and getting the communication down. Getting a feel for how everyone’s going to fit together and really coming together as a unit and taking a bunch of different personalities and trying to make them come together as a cohesive unit for one goal and in one direction. That’s probably the biggest challenge; we have some talented players, now it’s just a matter of them coming together and meshing.”
Can [coming together as a cohesive unit] happen on the practice field or is it something that needs to happen in games?
Coach Allen: “You start it on the practice field. Well really, you start it in the meeting room. You start in the meeting room. You bring it on out here to the practice field. We’ll have four preseason games to cement that a little bit, and then we get ready for the regular season. We’ve got a lot of pros on our defense; guys that have been in battle before, guys that understand what it takes, guys that have won championships. I’m looking forward to watching these guys play.”
Going into the first padded practice, do you have a talk with the team about how to play hard but stay healthy?
Coach Allen: “We’ve talked about that, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to be a tough, physical team. To do that, you’ve got to practice that way, so we’re going to practice tough. We’re going to practice physical, and guys are embracing that."
You talk about [Nick] Roach being a guy who started part of last season, but really he was in the shadow of guys like [Brian] Urlacher. Do you see
Coach Allen: “Yeah. We’ve got a lot of guys on this team that, if you pay attention to the outside world, are kind of unsung, but we think they’re talented football players. You can win in this league with talented players who are willing to work together and willing to compete together; guy’s that aren’t going to let go of the rope.”
When did you hear about
Coach Allen: “Well, we were aware of the possibility. Really at the end of the day, it’s a latent matter. It’s not a suspension handed down by the team, and we’ll just kind of leave it at that.”
How do you see
Coach Allen: “Well first of all, I’d say Lamarr Houston worked his tail off this season, and he’s probably in the best shape he’s been in since he’s been here. He sees himself as an elite player. We see him as an elite player. He’s prepared himself both physically and mentally to be that.”
Is the other [defensive] end spot, is it pretty much an open competition?
Coach Allen: “Yeah. There’s a lot of competition going on throughout camp. I think a lot of times when you look at it, you may go in not thinking there’s going to be a lot of competition and there ends up being competition. We’re trying to create that as much as we can with every position on the football team. We’re going to evaluate how training camp goes, how preseason goes, and it’s not until the end of training camp that we’ve got to make the decision of who’s going to be the right 53 players for the Oakland Raiders.”
How confident are you that you’ve got [the right 53 players] here?
Coach Allen: “I’m very confident. At the end of the day, once you come into training camp, there are no saviors coming. I feel very confident that the guys that we have are working extremely hard. I think they all understand what type of football team we’re going to be and how we’re going to win this year.”
From the looks of it, there’s not a lot of depth at the middle linebacker position. Is it a situation where you might look to bring somebody in for that or will you maybe move [Miles] Burris over there?
Coach Allen: “Well, obviously Miles is the guy that we were counting on this year. I think you’ve got to be able to train all of these guys in multiple positions because you do face injuries in every season. We’ve got to prepare a lot of guys to play a lot of different positions. Any backup player has got to be able to play multiple positions. Could we maybe bring someone in? Yeah, that’s obviously always a chance, and we’re always going to look, as I’ve always said, for anybody out there that can come in and help us win.”
The read option was a big thing this year in the NFL, and there’s been a lot of talk about how teams stop that read option. How much work do you guys put in training camp on those kinds of things behind the scenes?
Coach Allen: “Football is a game of trends, and that’s obviously something that’s become a big trend in the National Football League with teams like Washington, Carolina, San Francisco across the bay. That’s something that’s in this league. It’s not going away right now so we’ve got to prepare to defend those things. We don’t necessarily put a ton of emphasis on that per se, other than we’ve got to understand our responsibilities. It’s like defending the triple option. Everyone’s got a responsibility, and they’ve got to make sure do their job. When you get in trouble with that is when you try to do somebody else’s job. That’s when things break down and people make big plays.”