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News

Coach Allen Talks Injuries, Chiefs and More

Posted Oct 9, 2013

Injuries, playing the Chiefs, new defensive tackle, quarterbacks, Terrelle Pryor's maturation and more - Head Coach Dennis Allen discusses it all.

Raiders Head Coach Dennis Allen: Starting off with the injury report – Tyvon Branch didn’t practice today. Rashad Jennings was limited. Darren McFadden was limited. Stacy McGee was limited. Tony Pashos was back limited today. Marcel Reece was limited. Menelik Watson and Stefen Wisniewski did not practice today. So it’s another big week. We’re playing a good football team. They have a lot of good players. They’re well-coached and it’s a divisional game. This is a huge game for us and I think we’re attacking this week as such, that it’s a big game for us and we have a chance to go out and play again against a divisional rival, try to get our record to 3-3, try to get our division record 2-1 and we’re putting all our efforts into doing that. I’ll open it up to questions.

Q: How encouraging even just limited is it just to be able to have Darren and Rashad on a Wednesday?

Coach Allen: That was good. I thought both of them looked pretty good in practice today in the reps they took. Hopefully we’ll be able to have both of those guys for the game.

Q: Without giving away any trade secrets, this Chiefs defense, how do you attack it?

Coach Allen: Well, you have to block them, that’s the first thing. They’re very talented. They have two guys on the edge in [Justin] Houston and Tamba Hali, both those guys are really good football players. They play the run and the pass exceptionally well. Dontari Poe is really playing good as a nose [tackle]. Derrick Johnson’s been an outstanding linebacker in this league, a guy that can run around, makes a lot of plays, makes a lot of tackles. I think they play a tough, physical brand of football. I think their secondary is really outstanding, so you have to execute and that’s what it really boils down to. If we execute our plays, we’ll have a chance. But it’s going to be a tough game, especially for our offense against their defense.

Q: Teams have had a lot of success running the football against their defense. Obviously, that’s going to be a key, as it is probably every week, for you guys …

Coach Allen: Yeah, we have to be well-balanced. We have to be able to run the football. We have to be able to throw the football and be effective. We have to be able to stay ahead of the sticks. You start getting into 3rd-and-long situations against these guys, it’s been tough sledding for a lot of teams this year when you get in 3rd-and-long situations. We have to be able to stay on schedule offensively, stay ahead of the sticks and then when we do get to third down, we have to be able to convert.

Q: How do you balance this weekend some guys you’d like to play, but they could probably use an extra week off and you have the bye coming up? Do you take that into account?

Coach Allen: You play with the guys that are healthy enough to play and if our guys are healthy enough to play, they’ll be out there Sunday. We need all these guys to go out there and try to win this football game. We’re going to take all the able bodies we have and healthy guys we have and go try to win a game.

Q: Watson had a setback with the knee or was it something?

Coach Allen: It’s a calf. It’s really the same calf that he’s had problems with. So obviously it’s frustrating for him, it’s frustrating for us that we haven’t been able to really have him out there. I think we’ve had him maybe a total of 10 days since the start of training camp. But he’s got to get healthy and then once he gets healthy, then we have to have an opportunity to evaluate him and see what we have.

Q: Talk about the new guy you brought in, [Daniel] Muir, and why you signed him?

Coach Allen: We’re always looking to upgrade the roster. Anything we can do to bring guys in here that we think can help us win football games. It’s not uncommon that you’re going to bring guys in on Tuesday of a game week and have some workouts and take a look at guys and some of those guys the situation dictates that you sign him. He’s a guy we worked out, I believe it was last week, and he had a good workout. We got a chance to watch him. Reggie [McKenzie] has some familiarity with him from Green Bay. He played in Indianapolis. He was with Houston during the preseason. We saw some good things about him and so we wanted to try to upgrade our depth at the D-line position and thought he was a good addition.

Q: Would you like to have a third quarterback on the 53-man or are you comfortable … ?

Coach Allen: We’ll see. I think you have to continue to evaluate that as the season goes on. I don’t think we’re dead-set one way or the other. If we feel like there’s somebody that can help us, then we’ll make that move. Right now, we feel good with the guys that we’re going into the game with.

Q: What about the guys you worked out from yesterday, the quarterbacks? Do you have any interest in any of them?

Coach Allen: Yeah, I’m not really going to comment on who we worked out or what anybody looked like. We worked out a lot of guys on Tuesday and we’ll do that really throughout the season. If there’s somebody we feel like is a good fit for us and gives us a chance and can help us win games, then we’ll try to sign them.

Q: What has Alex Smith brought to the Chiefs from your observation?

Coach Allen: I think he’s done a great job of running that offense. He’s very efficient in how he runs the offense. He doesn’t turn the ball over. He makes good decisions in the passing game, so they’ve done exactly what they’ve needed to do. I think they have a really good defense and offensively, when they get their opportunities, they take their shots. They do a great job of not having negative plays, staying on schedule, moving the chains. They’ve got 33 minutes of time of possession average in a game, so they understand their formula for success and they’ve done a nice job of that this year.

Q: Obviously you want Terrelle [Pryor] to be Terrelle and do the things he does, but looking at someone like that [Alex Smith] in terms of efficiency, is that part of his game kind of a model?

Coach Allen: You obviously want Terrelle to be efficient, but I don’t think you really look at how somebody else is playing as much as what can Terrelle do, what can he do well, and we want to put him in those situations and let him go out and perform the way he needs to perform and not try to be somebody else. I think as long as he does that, I think he’ll have a chance to be successful.

Q: Alex was somebody that you would see with the 49ers a lot in the preseason, do you see anything that he’s doing differently with the Chiefs that you can really pinpoint?

Coach Allen: Not really. I think he’s doing the same things. I think he’s, like I said, he’s very efficient. He’s got a high completion percentage. He moves the team down the field and he doesn’t make mistakes. Really, at the end of the day, that’s the sign of a good quarterback and when he’s had the opportunity to play, he’s won a lot of games over the last couple of years, so he’s playing at a high level.

Q: As Pryor has emerged this year – are you starting to see defenses play him differently?

Coach Allen: Every team has a different plan for him and so sometimes it can be difficult to game plan because you don’t know exactly what the look is that you’re going to get on a week in and week out basis based on him being the quarterback. So we plan for what we think teams are going to do and we have to be ready to adjust in the game if they start giving us something different.

Q: His mobility has been clear from the start; how much has he improved on throwing on the run, using that ability as a passer?

Coach Allen: He’s improved a lot. I think his mechanics as a quarterback have really improved. He has a good presence in the pocket, but yet he can still get out of the pocket and make plays. And his ability to throw the ball both from the pocket and on the move, he’s really improved in those areas. He’s getting better. He’s always been a great athlete; he’s getting better as a quarterback.

Q: How much is his mobility, Dennis, his ability to extend plays, kind of covered up the problems and shortcomings of the offensive line?

Coach Allen: I think that’s part of it. I think his ability to escape if the protection does break down has been key for our offense because at times, I don’t care who you are, at times the protection is going to break down and when it does, he has the ability to create something and for the most part it’s been positive, that’s when he’s been able to do that.

Q: Any updates on [Jared] Veldheer just in terms of where he is?

Coach Allen: He’s making progress, that’s really the only update I have.

Q: [Miles] Burris looks like he’s moving pretty good out there; you think he’s back next week?

Coach Allen: He’s another one. We’ve got some time to make that decision and I think as we get closer to that day we’ll make a determination if we feel he’s ready to get into full scale practice then we’ll activate him. From the time that we activate him, we have three weeks to make a determination if he’s ready to play or not so we want make sure that when we do activate him he’s ready to go.

Q: I don’t think the Raiders have beat a team with a winning record since the Bears game here a couple of years ago, before you got here. What would it mean to take down a team, obviously at the top of the division, is that the next step?

Coach Allen: If you want to be a team that’s looked at as a challenger, as a playoff contending team, you’re going to have to beat good football teams. We use these types of games as a measuring stick to try to see where we’re at. We know that the team we’re going to play is an outstanding football team, 5-0, and they’re 5-0 for a reason. We know it’s a great challenge and we’re looking forward to going and competing, and seeing where we’re at.

Q: Do you need to verbally send that message to the guys or everybody understands to a man, what an opportunity this is?

Coach Allen: I think that being the head coach, your job is to lead, motivate and inspire your guys to play well and to play at a high level. That’s always something that we look at as a way to encourage our guys and motivate our guys to play well, but I don’t think there needs to be a lot said when you have a division rival like the Kansas City Chiefs, going into Kansas City, playing at Arrowhead Stadium in that environment.  I don’t know if there needs to be a whole lot said to get them ready to play. The biggest key is to get them sharp mentally so we can go out and execute.

Q: Can you guys take anything out of the games against them last year, or are they just completely different?

Coach Allen: I think they have 15 of their 22 starters were on the football team last year. Yeah there’s a little bit you can take out of it, from a personnel standpoint, but the schemes are different and they’re different in certain positions that really changes a defense. I think they’ve done some things to upgrade their secondary. Obviously, the quarterback position is playing really well for them. We look at some of the things from last year’s game but I think year in and year out teams are different and we have to really prepare for what they’re doing now.

Q: You guys have a lot of good play on your coverage teams, special teams wise. What does it take to get the return game going? Is it a standard, we’re one block away type of thing?

Coach Allen: Yeah, pretty much.  When you play those games and you play in space, a lot of things can happen and the key thing is we’re only a couple of blocks away from being able to get something going in the return game. We’ve got some explosive players back there; Jacoby Ford is returning both punts and kicks as well as Phillip Adams returning punts, so it’s creating just a little more space, a little bit more room for them to operate and when it’s there, see that burst and acceleration through the hole and see if we can’t get something going.

Q: Andy Reid said you guys have the best special teams in the league.  He obviously knows your special teams coach pretty well, do you agree with that assessment?

Coach Allen: Well I think our special teams are playing at a high level. I think Bobby April and Keith Burns have done a great job with our special teams, they’re one of the more improved areas of our football team and we have to continue to play well in that phase. Again, it’s going to take all three phases to be able to win this football game. It’s going to take our offense operating at a high level, our defense is going to have to play well and special teams is going to have to create something for us. When you look at the field position battle, Kansas City is one of the top 10 teams in the league as far as field position. They average starting about the 34-yard-line which is really unheard of as far as starting field position. Their defense has had a lot to do with that and their special teams has had a lot to do with that.

Q: This is Denarius Moore’s best three game stretch; how has he gotten better, even since camp?

Coach Allen: He’s been more consistent. And that’s been the thing that we’ve continued to talk to him about, and there’s still a lot for him to continue to get better at. The big thing is having the confidence to play, and when the opportunities come your way to make sure you make the most of that opportunity. He’s done a better job of that in the last three weeks, and hopefully he’ll continue to grow.

Q: Is Wiz’s [Stefen Wisniewski] injury more significant then you initially thought?

Coach Allen: No. Not really. He didn’t practice today; we’ll see where he’s at tomorrow. He’s working hard to rehab, and we’ll see where he’s at and hopefully get him back out there soon.

Q: As far as [Andre] Gurode playing center the other day, was it just a matter of getting back on the bike or was there a little bit of rust that he had to shake off, how would you grade his performance?

Coach Allen: He’s never been a great bike rider [laughs]. Listen, it’s different, you go from left guard to center and there’s a little bit more responsibility going over to center. But, he’s played that position at a high level for a long time in this league, and he really did a good job in the game, and I think the more he plays in there the better he’s going to be. So, I would look for even more improvement out of him this week; he’s got a tough challenge, but I would look for more improvement out of him this week.

Q: I wouldn’t have imagined he would have snapped it out of the shotgun as much as he did this past week, do you think he did a good job with it?

Coach Allen: He was pretty decent at it, you know? He did a good job. Obviously a lot of our offense runs out of the shotgun or pistol formation, whatever it may be. He’s got a lot of work at it, it’s not like he hasn’t done it. He’s gotten a lot of work out of it during practice because he’s been our backup all along. He’ll go in and do a good job; he’ll anchor the offensive line.