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News

Talking Chargers with Coach Allen

Posted Dec 18, 2013

Head Coach Dennis Allen spoke to the media after Wednesday's practice as the Raiders look for their second straight win over the San Diego Chargers.

Opening Statement: “Injury report today – guys that didn’t practice today, Miles Burris didn’t practice with an ankle and Charles Woodson did not practice with his ribs. Darren McFadden was limited in practice. Jeremy Stewart did not practice and Vance Walker did not practice. That’s the injury report. I thought we had a good practice today. I think our guys are excited about getting another opportunity to go out and play. That’s what we need to do – we need to go out and play against a team that’s playing at a very high level right now. They’re playing good in all phases of the game. Obviously their offense is sixth in the league in total offense and very explosive. They do a great job of controlling time of possession with what they do offensively. And then defensively they’ve really improved and over the last three games, they’re a top 10 defense. We understand the challenges and we’ve got to get ready to play.”

Q: How much did McFadden do today?

Coach Allen: “He did pretty much everything. He’s a little limited, but really looked pretty good.”

Q: His bounce back is good? It looks like he could available?

Coach Allen: “Yeah, that’s the direction that we’re looking at right now so we’ll see how he practices this week.”

Q: Where does he fit in as far as the carries? Does he go back into the rotation or have [Rashad] Jennings and [Marcel] Reece shown enough that they still get the…?

Coach Allen: “Darren would go back into the rotation, but Rashad Jennings would be our starting tailback and both those other guys would work in there.”

Q: What has changed for both teams since the last time you guys have played? Is it two different teams from that point to now?

Coach Allen: “Obviously, they’re on a little bit of a hot streak and they’ve played really well the last couple of weeks. I don’t think anything’s really changed, not much has changed from a personnel standpoint, not much has changed from a schematic standpoint. They’re obviously playing really well. We haven’t played as well the last couple of weeks, so we need to go out there and put a good performance out there.”

Q: Going back to an opponent that you did play pretty well against, can that jar something, get something going you think?

Coach Allen: “Well, hopefully. It’s a team that we have some familiarity with and it was one of our better performances of the season when we played them here in that late-night game. I think our guys feel confident that they can play against these guys and we just have to go out and do it.”

Q: How do you balance trying to win these last couple of games with maybe trying to get a further evaluation on some guys? Or do you have, you and your staff, in your mind have a pretty good idea of what everybody can do and maybe what your off-season plans may be?

Coach Allen: “I think I’ve answered that question several times. I think during the season it’s about trying to win games. Obviously, there’s an evaluation part of that, but really our focus is how we play as well as we can play on Sunday to give ourselves a chance to win. That’s all our focus is on. Our guys are working really hard to get that done.”

Q: Could you foresee Khalif Barnes staying at guard longer term or is this a short term solution at left guard?

Coach Allen: “We moved him to offensive guard and that was something we had kind of looked at early in the year as something that we wanted to be able to try to do and unfortunately with the injuries we weren’t able to do that. Now that we’ve gotten a little bit healthier from an offensive line standpoint, we’ve been able to move him in there and he’s done a pretty good job.”

Q: What have you seen on tape from Keenan Allen, especially lately? It seems like he’s really come on and has a pretty good groove in that offense?

Coach Allen: “He’s played exceptionally well and they get him the ball in a lot of different ways. He’s been really a red zone threat. He’s also been a guy that’s been a down the field threat for them. He’s really improved as a receiver and it looks like the quarterback is comfortable throwing him the ball. He’s a big target so that makes it tough because he’s a big target and he’s athletic and he’s got a big catching radius. When you have those types of things, it makes it comfortable for the quarterback.”

Q: Did you like him coming out of the draft?

Coach Allen: “I did. I thought he was a good player. Obviously he had the injury issue coming out but I knew he was a very talented player and he’s showing that with the way he’s playing.”

Q: As you guys go back defensively Monday and you went through all the corrections on defense on the mistakes and there was a significant amount of them the last two games, are those sessions still positive in terms of making those corrections?

Coach Allen: “Again, like I’ve said before, we’re in the solution business. We’re not looking to point fingers. We’re not looking to cause problems. We’re in the solution business and we’ve got to eliminate a handful of plays in the last couple of plays that have been explosive plays. Obviously this last game, the screen plays were an issue, so we have to go back and we have to work on that and get that corrected. And then when we get put in tough situations defensively, we’ve got to find ways to keep them out of the end zone and make them have to kick field goals, but that’s why this is a team game. This defense has played well at times this year. We haven’t played as well as of late and we have to find ways to get that corrected.”

Q: On the screen plays, was the biggest issue not recognizing those as screens? What was the biggest problem?

Coach Allen: I think the biggest problem was getting the guy down in space. That was the biggest challenge that we had and understanding how we have to fit those things and the different coverages and the different things that we’re doing. But the biggest challenge is when we get guys in space, we have to be able to find a way to get him on the ground.”

Q: I’m working on a feature of Rashad Jennings and his healthy lifestyle. He said people kind of make fun of him because gluten and casein free and he doesn’t eat anything that’s provided from the facility or post-game meals. What was your initial reaction when you first met Rashad and how you knew he goes about his business as far as food goes?

Coach Allen: “That’s really never been a topic of discussion that we’ve discussed. He’s a pro and wants to take care of his body and wants to do things the right way and that’s how you stay in this league for a long time. So I think it’s a good thing, but again, we haven’t had a lot of discussions about it.”

Q: He said people at camp thought he wasn’t eating because you guys didn’t see him in team meals.

Coach Allen: “Again, I didn’t pay any attention to that. He was in, he signed in, was where he was supposed to be, and to each his own.”

Q: Is Vance Walker still a ways off in terms of the steps he has to take?

Coach Allen: “Yeah, it looks that way.”

Q: In that first game, [Ryan] Mathews got hurt. What have you seen from him on film since then? Why is he doing so well?

Coach Allen: “Well I’ve always had a lot of respect for him as a back. I know he’s always been a talented back. He runs very hard. His biggest thing has been that he’s had some injuries. Obviously, now he’s healthy. He’s running the ball exceptionally well. Again, he’s a powerful back, runs with a lot of explosiveness. He runs tough, breaks a lot of tackles, and then he’s got the burst to take it the distance if he gets in the clear. We have a lot of respect for him as a running back and we know that’s going to be a tough match-up.”

Q: Is Charles Woodson giving you the same on-field performance that he was earlier in the year?

Coach Allen: “Yeah, I think so. I think he’s done everything that we’ve asked of him to do and he’s continuing to try to work to get things corrected. He’s been a great asset to our organization.”

Q: Who is your emergency quarterback, your No. 3 guy now if your first two got hurt?

Coach Allen: “I’m not getting into that, but we’ve got a plan.”

Q: You have a plan?

Coach Allen: “Yeah.”