Head Coach Dennis Allen addresses the media at the Senior Bowl. Photo by Tony Gonzales
Q: Do you feel like you have a bag full of riches at offensive tackle, with three guys that could potentially start in the NFL?
Coach Allen: “Yeah, it’s a good situation to be in. I look at our 53-man roster and I’d like to be in that situation every week during the regular season. It’s a good situation. They are good football players. We have a lot of good football players. It’s exciting to watch them work; it’s exciting to watch them grow as the week goes on. I thought today’s practice was even better than yesterday’s practice. It’s a good thing for us as a football staff that we really get a chance to work with these guys and, really, get a chance to find out even more about what they are as a football player, but find out more about them as individuals.”
Q: What stood out about today’s practice? Any players in particular?
Coach Allen: “Overall, I thought the tempo of practice and the way the guys worked and competed throughout the practice I thought was outstanding. It’s very good to watch these guys when they get in those individual, one-on-one type of drills. Today, we had linebackers and safeties vs. tight ends and running backs in pass protection, so it was good to see some of those backs step up in pass protection, see what they could do. A lot of them had not been asked to do that, so that was a good thing to see. Obviously, we always enjoy the one-on-one pass rush with the O-line and D-line.”
Q: Talk about what it’s like for you as a coach to help them through their first NFL experience.
Coach Allen: “You feel a sense of responsibility. That’s part of your job and part of the reason why we’re here. Obviously, for us, as the Oakland Raiders, we want to get an opportunity to evaluate these guys, see what makes these players tick, both as a football player and as an individual. But I also feel like we have an obligation to teach them what it takes to be a football player in the National Football League. There’s a higher sense of activity that you’ve got to do to be successful in the National Football League. You’ve got to really increase what your expectations are of yourself, because the expectations of the organization that you go to are going to be greater than anything that you’ve experienced so far. So, I feel like that’s part of the responsibility of us, as coaches and the Senior Bowl, to prepare these guys for that.”
Q: What stands out most about Eric Fisher (offensive tackle, Central Michigan)?
Coach Allen: “His footwork, his athleticism. Obviously, he’s a very big man, but to be that agile and that athletic at the offensive tackle position is pretty impressive.”
Q: How do you plan to use Denard Robinson (Michigan) this week?
Coach Allen: “We had a team meeting Sunday night and he introduced himself as ‘Denard Robinson, University of Michigan, Athlete.’ So that’s kind of the way we plan on using him. We’re going to line him up in a couple of different positions. He hasn’t been able to participate fully in practice yet (injury). We anticipate him doing that tomorrow, but we’re going to try to move him around and do a few different things with him, and just evaluate what he can do.”
Q: What has stood out about Robinson so far?
Coach Allen: “Well, he’s been limited in what he’s been able to do (injury), but I just think his athleticism. This guy’s an incredible athlete. He’s got great speed, great quickness, and he’s certainly a weapon when you get the ball in his hands in space.”
Q: What happened to OT Kyle Long (Oregon) today?
Coach Allen: “He was sick today. He was just sick. He had some flu-like symptoms. As a matter of fact, I saw him after practice; he was going to head back to his room, get a little rest. I anticipate him being ready to go for tomorrow.”
Q: Desmond Trufant (Washington) comes from a long line of great cornerbacks; what have you seen from him?
Coach Allen: “I’ve been impressed with him. To play the cornerback position, you’ve got to have a little bit of moxie, a little bit of swagger. That’s the thing that kind of stands out to me. He believes that this is the spot he ought to be. He believes he should fit in the National Football League. When you watch him go out there and practice and play, even though this is the best of the best, he has not backed down. I like that about him.”
Q: Jerry Rice said he agrees with what Tim Brown said yesterday. Is there any validity to that in your opinion?
Coach Allen: “I wasn’t there, so I really don’t know. I find it hard to believe but that was something that happened 10 years ago and I really wasn’t a part of it, so I guess I really don’t have much of a comment on it.”
Q: Does it make sense for a coach to do that?
Coach Allen: “Again, I’m not there. Situations dictate what you feel like you need to do, so I really don’t know what that was.”
Q: What are your thoughts on Florida International CB Jonathan Cyprien?
Coach Allen: “I like his toughness. I like his aggressiveness. Showed a little bit of range in the back end. I’ve been real impressed with the way he’s gone about doing his work this week.”
Q: Do you feel like the competitive spirit at the practices has been good?
Coach Allen: “I think anytime you go out on the football field, anytime you play or practice in a game-like environment, you have to compete. That’s the only way that you get better. Everything you do is creating habits. You’re either creating good habits or bad habits. So every time those guys go out onto the field, you want them to compete. And I think it’s a great environment, the way that they’re competing. But all of us on the North squad, we’re on the same team. We all have the same goal in mind, for these players to make it in the National Football League. You want to be sure you compete, but compete in the right way, and keep everybody up and everybody healthy.”
Q: Talk about the three quarterbacks you have and how they might be able to showcase what they can do.
Coach Allen: “We’re going to try to look at a lot of different things, as far as what they can do. I think they’ve all really done a nice job. (Zac) Dysert’s a guy that took a lot of snaps from the shotgun, so we’ve got him up under the center a little bit, trying to see what he can do from a drop-back standpoint. He obviously has got some athleticism; he made a really nice throw today, from outside the pocket, so that was nice to see. Ryan’s (Nassib) done a really nice job. He’s a little bit more your prototypical drop-back kind of guy. He also has some athleticism. I’ve been really impressed with him. I like a little bit of his swagger. And, then obviously, Mike Glennon, he really is truly your prototypical drop-back passer, standing in the pocket. He made a nice throw down the seam today in a four-vertical situation, so that was good to see him do that. We want to see him try to get outside the pocket, see what kind of mobility he has, and what he can do outside the pocket. One of the things you try to do with some of these guys is, you try to see what’s not viewed as a strength of theirs, you want to try to put them in those situations and just see how they respond. Part of it is, we want to kind of play to their strengths a little bit, but we also want to see what they do on some of those things that are out of their comfort level.”
Q: Talk about Margus Hunt (SMU, 6-7, 280, DT).
Coach Allen: “Yeah, you notice him right away, because of his size. He’d be the first one we’d walk off the bus. He looks like a football player. He was impressive in some of the things he’s done. I think he’s a really good athlete. He’s kind of unique because he can do a lot of different things. He can play end in a 4-3 defense. We could also potentially play him at end in a 3-4 defense, line him up on the tackle. I think one of the things that makes him unique is his length. Not only is he tall, but he’s got long arms and really can create some separation, get off blocks.”
Q: Is there any advantage to the fact that Hunt is new to the game, from a teaching standpoint?
Coach Allen: “I think one of the things you look at in all of these guys is what potential upside do these guys have. He’s one of those guys that, really, you’ve got to look at, does he understand the fundamentals and understand the concepts of the game. And if he understands that, and he’s got the athleticism, then you can project and see the growth as far as being a football player, so that’s what we’re looking at with him.”
Q: You coached with Sean Payton. What’s your reaction to him being reinstated today and how will he respond?
Coach Allen: “I think he’ll respond great, and I’m excited for him. He’s a football coach. He deserves to be coaching football and I’m glad he’s back.”
Q: Marquise Goodwin from Texas…
Coach Allen: “Fast.”
Q: He represented his country in track. You’ve noticed that he’s fast. How impressed are you with him?
Coach Allen: “I’ve been impressed with his… (TV lights continue to go out in back of room)…that’s like disco back there. We get the disco ball out here and we’ll be alright. I’ve been impressed, not only with his speed but I’ve been impressed with his route-running. A lot of times you see some of these guys that are fast and they’re not really polished as far as route-running is concerned. He’s run some nice routes this week, so it’ll be interesting to see how he continues to develop as the week goes on.”