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News

Q&A with Head Coach Dennis Allen

Posted Jul 29, 2012

Head Coach Dennis Allen took questions from the media on Sunday.


Head Coach Dennis Allen. Photo by Tony Gonzales

Q: Do you have conditioning tests these guys go through?

Coach Allen: We went out there and ran. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a conditioning test like a lot of people put together, but we went out and got a sweat and we were kind of seeing where guys were conditioning wise. We call it a conditioning test, but…

Q: There’s no bar like if you don’t pass you don’t get to practice type of thing?

Coach Allen: Not per se. It’s no different than anything else you do from a physical standpoint. It’s just another step in the process to make sure these guys are ready to go for camp.

Q: As it stands now, is there anyone who won’t be practicing tomorrow? Wiz [Stefen Wisniewski] and [Denarius] Moore are the ones that come to mind.

Coach Allen: And we’ll let you guys know tomorrow exactly who’s where. Wiz and Moore will be practicing. I haven’t had a chance to talk to the training staff yet to find out exactly how all the physicals went so I’m really not at liberty to say right now, but we’ll know later on this evening, but for sure by tomorrow’s practice.

Q: Do you anticipate anyone on PUP?

Coach Allen: There’s a chance, but again, until we get through the whole physical process, I don’t really know.

Q: Signed a couple guys but you got an opening left. Are you apt to use that now or is that something where it depends on your need?

Coach Allen: We don’t necessarily have a plan for that right now. We kind of wanted to leave ourselves a little bit of room in case we needed to make an adjustment during training camp. So if we bring a guy in, we wouldn’t have to cut somebody to bring somebody else in. Right now, I would anticipate that that spot would be open.

Q: A couple of players yesterday when they were coming off were mentioning with the CBA restrictions, more than ever you can’t waste a practice. Is that something that’s been a big topic from you from the beginning basically?

Coach Allen: Yeah, there’s only so many days that you get to practice. You have to give them five days off, before the last preseason game. You’ve got to give them one day off every seven days. And you’re only practicing one real practice a day, and the other practice is a walk-through practice. Our ability to get the most out of the limited opportunities that we’ve got is going to be critical. I think the teams that are able to do that the best, are going to benefit from it.

Q: From afar, you look at a walk-through as something that you can’t be getting much out of. What do they really get out of them? And how do you know that they’re really zeroed in on these things?

Coach Allen: It’s a lot of alignment assignment. What I try to talk to those guys about is that we’re a walkthrough tempo physically, but mentally our mind has to be working 100 miles an hour. That’s the thing that you’ve got to make sure you do. You’ve got to make sure that they are focused from a mental standpoint.

Q: You’ve got [Juron] Criner in. Was there ever any doubt about that?

Coach Allen: You never know what’s going to happen in those negotiations but we felt pretty confident all along that he would be in here for training camp.

Q: What did he show you in OTAs and minicamp?

Coach Allen: He’s a big, athletic receiver that has a big catching radius. He went and made some plays for us in OTAs. His ability to be a big target for the quarterback was a positive.

Q: Is everybody here?

Coach Allen: Everybody’s here.

Q: [Terrelle] Pryor, too?

Coach Allen: Yes.

Q: How much did what Criner and [Rod] Streater do in the offseason program help make you be able to trade Louis [Murphy] in terms of what you had?

Coach Allen: Obviously their emergence in OTAs and in minicamps kind of made that an option. I think obviously that what they did in the offseason kind of made that something that we could do.

Q: How active are you guys going to be with moves throughout camp? Do you anticipate that the guys you have here are pretty much the guys that are going to be on the roster? Or is it something where you think as teams begin to cut guys, you’re going to add quite a few?

Coach Allen: That’ s a question that… nobody has a crystal ball so I can’t answer that exactly. What I will say is, we’re going to look at every option that we can to try to make this team better. We’ll do that from today all the way through the end of the season. If there’s a move out there that we think is going to help us get better, then we’re going to make it.

Q: Was Steve Wisniewski’s departure something that you guys had an idea was coming or did it catch you by surprise? Did you think about adding a second coach?

Coach Allen: Number one is, it was a little bit of a surprise. Obviously he has his personal reasons as to why he made that decision. I will say this, it was totally his decision. It was nobody else’s decision. We thought about whether to bring somebody in or not but we felt like at this point, this late in the game, the right thing for us to do was to stick with the coaches that we have and go forward. I’ve got every confidence in the world in Frank Pollack as an offensive line coach. Being able to watch him throughout the OTAs and minicamp, he did a great job. He’ll do a great job coaching the offensive line.

Q: Has your outlook changed at all as far as defense? Obviously you came in, the numbers last year were pretty bad… where do you see the guys now after OTAs?

Coach Allen: That’s a hard question to answer because we haven’t put the pads on. I think once we put the pads on, I’ll have a better feel for where we’re at defensively. That’ll be an ongoing process. I will say that the way that they picked up the system throughout OTAs and minicamp, I was pleased with the way they picked up the system.

Q: Are you of the mind that at least a couple times you’ll have the players tackling each other to the ground or are you wanting to protect the guys?

Coach Allen: They’re may be a couple times during the course of training camp where we might have a live session, but for the most part we won’t have live sessions. There will be some contact and we’ll try to keep them off the ground as much as possible but every now and then, guys will hit the ground.

Q: First padded practice is what day?

Coach Allen: Let’s see, Wednesday.

Q: Because the first two days you can’t?

Coach Allen: First two days we can’t have pads. We can have a little soft shell.

Q: How much of those first few days are repeating the OTAs and minicamp stuff?

Coach Allen: All of it will be. At the end of the day, we got through probably 90 percent; I’m just giving you a number, of what we’re going to do this season. We got through that in OTAs and minicamp. At the end of the day, it’s a little bit of a repeat process throughout training camp. As you get into the game weeks, you add a little bit here and there.

Q: Are you comfortable for now with what you’re going with at running back? There has been at least some outside speculation that Cedric Benson or somebody like that could be headed here to have sort of a heavy-legged replacement for Michael Bush. Are you comfortable with the situation as it is now?

Coach Allen: Yeah, that’s what we have and that’s who we’re going with and Mike Goodson has been a guy that a couple of years ago in Carolina, we got a chance to play him a couple of times, and he did a nice job as a replacement there. Obviously, Taiwan [Jones] is an explosive back. The key is that we’re able to keep Darren [McFadden] healthy and then if we’re able to do that, we’ll be just fine.

Q: With a guy like Darren, do you monitor him practice wise and try to limit him at all, or is it that he’s healthy so it’s full go?

Coach Allen: Well I think you see how things play out throughout training camp. There is not a plan in place for anybody right now that we’re saying well we’re just going to limit this guy. But obviously, there may be some people as we go throughout the course of training camp where we decide that we’ll monitor them a little bit and cut down on some of those reps.

Q: There were some years in San Diego where they wouldn’t even play LaDainian Tomlinson in the preseason. Do you plan on playing McFadden?

Coach Allen: That is the plan. Again, we’ll look at that on a game-by-game basis, but I’m not sitting here right now thinking that there’s anybody on our team that we’re planning on not playing.

Q: Will it be tough to hold somebody out with the new system coming in and new coaches?

Coach Allen: Yeah, obviously that’s all part of it. You want guys to go in and execute the system under game-like situations so like I said, so we don’t have a plan for somebody not to play in a particular preseason game.

Q: With you offensive line at the practices that we were at there for a month and a half, it seemed you had your five guys. Were you waiting until you got up here to weave in some of the younger guys to give them some reps with the ones or are you pretty much firm on the guys you have?

Coach Allen: Our depth chart is not set. There was a little bit of maneuvering within the offensive line, but you’re right, it stayed pretty constant throughout most of the off-season. But nothing is set in stone and like I said, especially at those positions – offensive line, defensive line, even linebacker to a certain extent – its hard to make a whole lot of moves until you start putting the pads on, until you really get a chance to evaluate those guys. So there’s a chance you might see a little more movement once we get the pads on and start working.

Q: What did you learn about Carson [Palmer] in the OTAs and the off-season?

Coach Allen: Number one is he’s extremely smart. He’s a great leader. He’s way more athletic than anybody gives him credit for. He loves the game of football. This guy, he’s a competitor and he wants to be great and he’s done everything you can possibly want your quarterback to do.

Q: Did it give you a pretty good sense of confidence going into the season when you’ve got a quarterback that you feel good about?

Coach Allen: This is a quarterback driven league, you know what I mean? So for you to sustain success in this league, you’ve got to have a good one and I think we do. So yeah, that gives you a lot of confidence.

Q: With the penalty issue, do you hammer that from Day 1 or do you kind of take a wait and see approach? Obviously, that was last year’s problem and I’m wondering what your approach is now.

Coach Allen: We’ve already talked to them about it. I’ve tried to show them through different visual aids how that has an affect on winning and losing football games. We’ll monitor that situation as we go through practices and we’ll make whatever moves we need to, to try to hammer that point home and make sure they understand it’s costing us games so we can’t have it.

Q: Will you bring in officials?

Coach Allen: There will be officials in here for three days during camp.

Q: Will you bring in other guys?

Coach Allen: I don’t have plans to bring anybody else in as of right now.

Q: You talked about at the end of the last mini-camp that you wanted guys and coaches too to get away and get recharged for camp and that everybody is going to do it, even you. Did you do that, did you actually get away from the Raiders for an extended period of time?

Coach Allen: Absolutely. You have to. It’s a 24/7, 365 days a year job, but I have a family too. I have a wife and two kids and I want to be a dad, just as much as I want to be a coach. We got away and spent some time together as a family and now it’s time to get back to work.

Q: Do you feel ready? First camp?

Coach Allen: Yeah, jacked up about it. We’re ready. It’s a start of a long journey and we’ll take it, I know this is cliché, but we’ll take it one day at a time and we’ll attack whatever challenges come up on a day-by-day basis and deal with them and keep pushing forward.

Q: With regard to not being able to waste a practice, Tollefson was saying yesterday that look, that’s not on the coach to make sure we don’t waste a practice, that’s up to us, that’s up to the veterans. Is that what you’re looking for when you’re getting players now – guys that have that kind of self-policing?

Coach Allen: Absolutely. When you look at the successful teams in the NFL and the teams that have sustained success for long periods of time, they’ve got great team leadership. Those guys within the team, they police themselves and when their vision of the culture and the way it’s supposed to be done meets what the coach’s vision is, that’s when you’ve really got it. So that’s the type of stuff we’re looking for and we need more guys like that that provide that type of leadership. And at the end of the day, change is going to come because people decide to change. We might have a change in philosophy or change in ideas, but if people don’t change their actions, if you keep doing the same thing over and over again, you’re going to keep getting the same results. So we have to change our actions and that’s coaches, players, the organization, whatever the case may be.

Q: What do you make of this set up, having the players here, having the rooms all here and the players can get to the field in about a minute and the field? Do you like the set up, up here?

Coach Allen: I think it’s a great set up. Fields are in great condition. Having our rooms right there next to the meeting rooms. The food has been outstanding here so I think from that standpoint; the weather is great, so I think it’s a great situation for camp.

Q: Do you think it’s important to get away, kind of be somewhere isolated as a team and have a combined experience?

Coach Allen: I do. I think obviously we’re about an hour from Oakland, so we’re away, but we’re not really too far away. But I think having everyone in one little area does a lot to build team chemistry and we want to eliminate all the distractions as much as we can.

Q: Are there going to be any outings where you take them maybe golfing or something?

Coach Allen: I think if we decide to do that, which I don’t know, I don’t have that crystal ball, but we’ll see if they want to do it on their day off.

Q: Sean Payton, he talked at length about how many things like that he did, paintball, the whole pretending to be Belichick video beforehand. Is that you or is that something that’s not necessarily you?

Coach Allen: One thing is, when Sean was doing all those things, number one, you didn’t have as many off-season restrictions as far as the time and what you can do. You could still have two-a-day practices and you didn’t have to give them a full day off every seventh day. The times are changing a little bit and I think once you get an established culture and an established team and they understand the way you’re going to do things, then it makes it easier to do those types of things.