Head Coach Dennis Allen speaks to the media after the final mini-camp practice. Photo by Tony Gonzales
Q: General thoughts on mini-camp and off-season workouts…
Coach Allen: It’s always going to be a work in progress, but I specifically thought over the last couple days that I could kind of feel that we were kind of figuring out what we were asking them to do and I thought the guys really responded over the last couple of days.
Q: Frustrating to lose them now for six weeks?
Coach Allen: Hey listen, this is why we do this. The most important time, the most fun time, is the time we spend with the players. We’ve got some veteran players and I think they understand what’s at stake, so I think they’ll come back ready to roll come training camp.
Q: Carson [Palmer] described himself as, I think, pleasantly surprised in that the new regime and the new systems at both sides, he got probably more in than he thought that he would get in this situation. Is it about on schedule for what you thought you would get in? Are you pleasantly surprised…?
Coach Allen: It really is about, as far as the installation and what we installed, was exactly the way that we planned it. But I was pleased with the way that the guys, especially later in the OTAs and really into this mini-camp, how they really got a grasp of what we were asking them to do schematically. Really kind of felt the improvement of the last couple of days.
Q: Have you installed most of it? Is it most of it, or…?
Coach Allen: Most of it. It’s always an ongoing process, but I think for the most part we’ve installed really who we are and what we are.
Q: We were talking yesterday and you were saying you were really pleased with the progress of the defense. Even though it was hard to tell sometimes, it looked like the offense was kind of dominating things today. Today, it seems like the defense - clearly they were batting down balls and everything, how did that happen so suddenly like that?
Coach Allen: I think that, just as I said the other day, when you come off the practice field and you look at it with the naked eye and it’s not a real game life situation, sometimes it may appear that something happened and it was a big play when in reality the defensive guys, at times, were in position to make plays. I think this; I think when I look over the course of this last mini-camp and the course of the whole off-season with OTAs, there’s been a lot of give-and-take. Offensively we’ve had our good moments and then defensively we’ve had our good moments. So I think, as a head football coach, that’s the way you want it. You don’t want it to be too one-sided. So I was pleased with both sides of the ball. I think we’ve got the ability to have some explosiveness on offense and then I think our guys are really taking to the culture and the way that we’re going to play defense.
Q: You can’t meet on the field and practice anymore for awhile. They have this time off. But can you check on them? Can you communicate with them? Can you call them and say, “Hey, are you staying up on this?” How much off-limits is it?
Coach Allen: Well we can’t talk football with them.
Q: Not at all?
Coach Allen: No, but what we can do is we can communicate with them and make sure they’re doing okay. We’re going to really use this time for both coaches and players to give ourselves a chance to recharge, get our batteries ready to roll again. Because it’s a long, grueling season and we all need a little bit of time to get recharged.
Q: But you still have the rest of today to say, “Look, these are the things that you have to keep up on over the next six weeks”?
Coach Allen: Absolutely. We’ll have our meeting with the players before we get out of here and they’ll know exactly what’s expected out of them and what to expect when they get to training camp.
Q: You feel okay with the depth of this team at every spot now, or are there certain areas where you could even get a little more?
Coach Allen: Listen, I’m never going to be satisfied with where we’re at. We’re always going to be looking to improve. So, like I said, it’s an ongoing process. So we’re going to be looking throughout this five-week period until we get to training camp, or really six, until we get to training camp and we’re going to be looking for every way that we can to improve this football team.
Q: Is there any particular position that you feel like you’re thin at, at the moment, that you could add one more guy?
Coach Allen: Well, I don’t know that there’s any position that I’m looking at like to say we’ve got to get somebody here, but we are going to be actively seeing what’s out there and making sure we’re turning over every rock to make sure that we’re not missing anything.
Q: Will there be periods of time where coaches are cut loose for a week? Is there vacations for coaches at all?
Coach Allen: Oh yeah, we’re going to all take some time. We’ve got to have some time off, too.
Q: All at the same time, so it’s like its pretty much dark?
Coach Allen: Yeah. We’ve got to relax and recharge. Our coaches have put a lot of time and effort in this off-season, starting up a whole new program. For them to have a successful season and for them to be at their best, they need time to recharge too. So we’ll take some time off, get away from football for a little bit, and then we’ll be back and ready to roll for training camp.
Q: What are things you’ve learned about being a head coach that you didn’t know when you started this a couple of months ago? Or have things been mostly what you expected?
Coach Allen: You’re never prepared for everything. There’s always something that comes up that you’ve got to be ready for. I think the biggest thing is, as a head football coach, you’ve really got to be able to think on your feet. You’ve got to be able to react and respond to situations that arise and make decisions and then don’t look back. So I think that’s the biggest thing from my standpoint, is I’ve learned that you’ve got to think on your feet and you’ve got to make decisions and then don’t second guess yourself. Just keep on going.
Q: [Louis] Murphy and [Brandon] Myers look like added two guys that weren’t participating.
Coach Allen: Yes, just a little hamstring deal, but they’re fine. They’ll be ready to go for training camp.
Q: Do you have anybody on this roster that you think may not be ready, or do you pretty much expect everybody full go?
Coach Allen: I expect everybody that we’ve got on the 90-man roster right now to be fully ready to go for training camp.
Q: What did it turn out to be for [Eddie] McGee? What was his injury from yesterday?
Coach Allen: Little hamstring.
Q: Same as place as before?
Coach Allen: Same as what he’s had before. That’s kind of been the injury of choice around here. So we’re going to continue to look at that and try to evaluate why that’s occurring, but those guys will be around rehabbing and they’ll be ready to go for training camp.
Q: Speaking of the depth, it seems like you have a lot of guys at receiver. One of the highly contested spots probably?
Coach Allen: Yeah, I think that’s been a position that’s been pleasantly surprising in that there’s a lot of depth there; some athletic guys, a couple of the young guys have been able to step up- [Rod] Streater and [Juron] Criner in particular. So I think that’ll be one position that I think we’ll have a lot of competition at training camp for sure.
Q: What has Carson [Palmer] shown you, Dennis, as far as being a leader and being the quarterback of this team?
Coach Allen: Exactly that. He’s been an outstanding leader. He’s taken to the new system, has a good command of what we’re asking him to do. He’s coaching the young guys. You couldn’t ask for anything better than what we’re getting out of Carson right now.
Q: That’s not necessarily surprising, but considering how he literally came off of his couch last year and came into this situation and how he’s supposed to…?
Coach Allen: Obviously he’s got a little bit of a chip on his shoulder. He wants to prove that he still belongs in this league and can play at an elite level. As with everything else, it’s all about your mindset, and his mind is in the right place right now.
Q: He’s being asked to do things that he hasn’t done in awhile, the bootlegs and stuff… Do you get a sense that he is stimulated by that? That he gets to explore areas of playing quarterback that he hasn’t gotten to?
Coach Allen: Yeah, I think he’s excited about the things that we’re asking him to do in the offense. You guys have been out here watching him. He’s plenty athletic to do those types of things. I think he’s excited about it; it’s something new, it’s something challenging. And he’s really risen to the challenge.