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Coach Allen Monday


Raiders Head Coach Dennis Allen: **All right just starting off. There's really nothing new as far as injuries to report. Obviously, Tyvon [Branch] has got the ankle injury, and he's probably going to miss some time. How much that time will be, I don't know. Lucas Nix was getting an MRI on his ankle. That's really all I've got for you from an injury standpoint. With the game yesterday, it's funny how this league works. I mean a week ago today we came in here after a loss to Indianapolis and felt like we played well in the football game and gave ourselves a chance to win. Yesterday, I thought we played sloppy at times, but yet we were able to come out with a win. There were a lot of good things that we did in the game. I think for our football team to run the ball the way that we did with the effectiveness that we had running the football — [Darren] McFadden over 100 yards, 226 yards overall on the ground and 6.6 per carry — I thought that was outstanding. We were able to start fast in the game. Our ability to go out defensively — to defer on the coin toss, go out defensively, get a three-and-out, special teams to create the big play with the kicking game on the 30-yard return by Phillip Adams, and then to cap it off with a touchdown drive by the offense was a great way to start the football game. We were able to start fast in the game, and that was good. I thought defensively our ability to stop the run to make them a one-dimensional team where they had to throw the football, that was a big thing in the game. It allowed us to get some of our pressure packages going to we could affect the quarterback. Obviously any time you come off a game there are a lot of things you need to improve on. There are certainly a lot of things that we have to get cleaned up. Some of the operational things we've got to get cleaned up. Third downs have to get better. We've got to be able to stay on the field offensively. We've got to be able to get off the field on defense. We have to improve in the red zone, and our four minute, both offensively and defensively, we've got to improve. We've got to learn how to finish games and finish games stronger. That's critical to having success in this league. With that, obviously we're all excited about getting the win. We're 1-1. We've got a big divisional opponent we play on Monday night, so I'll open it up to questions now.

Q: Khalif Barnes played left tackle. Just from the numbers it looks like he kept a pretty clean pocket. Can you talk about his ability to do that over the first couple of weeks?

Coach Allen:I think when somebody goes down to an injury other guys have to be able to step up. I think both Khalif and Tony Pashos have been able to step up and do a nice job for us. Offensive line-wise, I think those guys have done a nice job for us over the first couple of weeks of the season. My hope is that as the season goes on they'll continue to improve, and we'll gel as a group up front and continue to get better. I think any time you rush for 226 yards, those guys up front are doing a good job for you.

Q: How did [Andre] Gurode do coming in for Lucas [Nix]?

Coach Allen:He did well. There are a couple of things that we obviously still need to get cleaned up, but I thought overall I was pleased with what he did when he got in there.

Q: Was it nice to see that when a team is committed to keeping [Terrelle] Pryor in the pocket that you can beat them other ways?

Coach Allen:I mean you never know how the game is going to play out. You have to start playing the game, and then you've got to be able to adjust. The object of the game is to move the ball down the field and score points. The object defensively is to not allow them to score points. That's about as simple as the game gets. I thought offensively we did the things that we needed to do to win the football game. Once we got out to a lead, we were playing pretty good on defense, so our ability to continue to run the ball, continue to eat up the clock and then get points when we had an opportunity to get points was the key to winning that game.

Q: There were three occasions when [Terrelle] Pryor threw balls that led a receiver to a collision. Could he have thrown those balls earlier, or is that just football?

Coach Allen:It's a little bit of both. I mean there are some timing things — just where to deliver the ball, how to deliver the ball — but part of it is football. There's going to be a lot of bang-bang plays. Guys are going to have to go up and make plays, catch the ball, still be able to absorb the contact and still be able to make the play. There are a lot of little things from a timing aspect that maybe we can get better at, but the key is you get the ball down the field and make the play. I thought we were able to do that some.

Q: By design, you've got a lot of versatility in your secondary. Guys can play different positions back there. With Tyvon [Branch] out, does it make most sense to move Charles [Woodson] to strong safety and Usama [Young] to free safety, or does it even matter?

Coach Allen:No, listen if Ty is out for a while, we feel like we've got guys that can step up and make plays whether it's strong safety or free safety. To me, I look at those as interchangeable positions. They really need to be to be able to have the flexibility to do some different things defensively. I think I've got confidence in all three of those guys that are back there.

Q: How would you describe Charles Woodson's impact in the game yesterday?

Coach Allen:I thought he had a huge impact in the game. I thought he played well. Obviously the big play down there in the red zone was a critical play in the game and a big momentum builder for us. You could feel the enthusiasm of really the whole stadium when he made that play on Maurice Jones-Drew. Charles has been a heck of a football player for us. He's been a great leader for us. He's been everything that we had hoped for and anticipated when we brought him here.

Q: Speaking of Brandian Ross, yesterday he said that he's ready for the challenge to step in there. What did you see from him yesterday?

Coach Allen:Well, I saw some good things. I saw some young mistakes, but I also saw some good things out of Brandian. He's a guy that we feel like has a lot of versatility. He's a converted corner. He's still learning how to play the position, but he's done a lot of good things for us. He's a versatile player for us. Again, when he's in there, we've got all the confidence in the world that he's going to be able to get the job done.

Q: Who is your first option to play strong safety with Tyvon [Branch] out?

Coach Allen:Well, we'll talk about it. Brandian [Ross] is the guy who has been getting the most work there, but I think all of those guys will play.

Q: Not many defensive linemen play every defensive play like Lamarr [Houston] has been doing. What allows him to play that much at the level he has been playing at?

Coach Allen:Well, he's in great condition. Lamarr is one of those guys; he really fights having to come off the field, we really have to battle with him to get him to come off. As we continue to develop some depth along the defensive line, we're going to have to be able to rotate him a little bit more and keep him fresh for the fourth quarter, and then he's fresh for the 16-game season. So, that'll be something that we're going to continue to look at as we go on.

Q: Will you be able to operate in the same way without [Tyvon] Branch there? Given the versatility that you have at safety, will you possibly shy away from certain calls without him there?

Coach Allen: No. We'll run the defense.

Q: [Sebastian] Janikowski missing the 48-yard field goal last week, the 35-yard field goal this week, is there still a transition period with Marquette [King] as the holder?

Coach Allen:Absolutely. I mean, there obviously was a comfort level with [former Raiders P] Shane [Lechler]; those guys had worked so long together that there wasn't much of a thought process that had to go into it. I still think we're in a situation where 'Seabass' is still working to develop the confidence in Marquette as the holder, but the more these guys continue to work together, the more they continue to go out there and get an opportunity and kick, I think that's going to get worked out. Q: Do you think the holds have been okay, or is it more of a timing type thing?

Coach Allen:It's one of those things that's really hard to tell. I think it's more of a situation where we've got to just develop that confidence in the operation that 'Seabass' [Sebastian Janikowski] had when Shane [Lechler] was holding for him.

Q: How will you handle the work week this week in terms of an extra day with Monday? What day will they get off, that sort of thing?

Coach Allen:It'll be a normal kind of work week. The players will be off tomorrow, then we'll get into a normal type of work week on Wednesday.

Q: A report came out that Tyvon [Branch] fractured his fibula. Can you comment on that?

Coach Allen:No. I mean, he's got an injury to his ankle. He'll have to rehab just like everybody else that has an injury, and when he's able to come back, he'll be back.

Q: When you guys stockpiled cornerbacks in the offseason, was it with games like Monday night's in mind? Was that part of the thinking when it comes to teams like Denver and teams with a lot of receivers?

Coach Allen:No. It was more of a factor of wanting to keep the best 53 players and try to have as many good football players on your team as you can, so that wasn't really a factor.

Q: Mychal Rivera is really starting to show up in the passing game. How has he developed?

Coach Allen:He's done a nice job. I think he had a couple catches in the game the other day; some first-down conversions. He's a guy that we felt like all along has a nice feel for the passing game. As a young player, my anticipation is that he's going to continue to develop and continue to get better.

Q: Is he [Mychal Rivera] earning a bigger role in the first couple games?

Coach Allen:I think that as he continues to show that he's able to handle a bigger role, we're going to continue to give him some more things to do.

Q: There were a few instances yesterday where they would throw a short pass and the first guy wouldn't get the tackle, but there would be three guys right there to swarm over and make sure the guy didn't get more than another yard or two. Does that typify the way you guys want to play defense?

Coach Allen:Yeah, that's the way all great defenses play; they swarm around to the football. We talk about how there is really no such thing as a missed tackle, as long as you've got 10 other guys that are there to back you up. And that's what we have to develop the confidence in – that we can go and tackle the ball carrier – whether it be a receiver, running back, whoever, and knowing that if we don't get him down the first time that there's going to be some others guy that are going to be there to clean it up for us. I thought our guys played hard. Defensively I thought they really flew around on the field yesterday, and I think when you play good defense that you're going to see that a lot.

Q: For all of the good stuff that we've seen the first couple of weeks, after the first two possessions all the way through yesterday, is getting the ball out, getting turnovers, is that the next step?

Coach Allen:Absolutely. And again, that'll come with getting those 11 guys to fly around. If we continue to get to the quarterback in the pocket, eventually some of those are going to be created into sack fumbles and then being able to get some of the strips down the field, that's always something that we talk about. As a defense, the only reason that you go out there is to get the ball back for the offense, and that's what we have to do a little bit better job of doing. Q: How much of a test is it going up against that offense [Denver Broncos] this week?

Coach Allen:A huge test. This will be the best team that we've faced and they're obviously very, very talented offensively.  I think the quarterback is still elite. He's obviously a Hall of Fame quarterback. He really makes it difficult because he identifies where your weaknesses are, where your vulnerabilities are, and he's able to exploit that and attack that. So, we're going to have to do a good job of changing things up and mixing some things up, mixing some looks and be able to play a good team game. I think we're going to have to be able to possess the ball on offense, to keep them off the field a little bit, and when we have scoring opportunities we're going to have to convert.

Q: I know it's the second year of your defensive system, but a lot of the guys are new, so why do you think it's clicked so far?

Coach Allen:I think a lot of the guys are just buying in to what we're doing and they're flying around to the football. I think that's what good defenses do.

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