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Coach Allen Talks Mini-Camp Day 2

Coach Allen: Obviously, we've got one more practice to go during this mini-camp. Then, there will be a little bit of time off for the players as we get ready for training camp. Obviously, we want to come out and finish strong tomorrow. I thought we had a nice practice today. Thought the tempo was good. I thought the execution was better today and I think our guys, one thing about them is, every time we challenge them I think they come back and respond. So I was pleased with the way they practiced today, really both sides of the ball as well as in the kicking game. The only thing I've got for you is, as far as injuries are concerned, in addition to what guys that didn't practice yesterday, Mike Jenkins did not finish practice, banged knees a little bit. And then Phillip Adams got a little hamstring.

Q: Is the issue with Latavius [Murray] anything serious that could go into training camp?

Coach Allen: No, I don't anticipate it at all.

Q: Going into the off-season, did you explore the possibility of bringing in a veteran receiver or did you just feel good about the group you had?

Coach Allen: A combination. We looked to see what was available, really at all positions. But I think we've got some young talent here. Now we need somebody to step up and really kind of separate themselves a little bit, but I like our receivers. I like the young talent that we have. We spoke yesterday from a consistency standpoint, that's one of the groups that's got to become more consistent. I like what we did today. I thought we were able to get the ball down the field a couple times today. We just need some of these young guys to step up for us this year.

Q: Should a guy like [Rod] theory, could the biggest development in his career come from last year to this year?

Coach Allen: That's really where you see the most growth in players from year one to year two. They've had these experiences. They've had a chance to learn from a full season and you anticipate them growing and developing and continuing to get better. A guy like Juron Criner is a guy that needs to become more involved. He's a guy that we're looking forward to kind of step up and fill a role for us.

Q: What has to happen for one of those guys to become the number one, to be the clear-cut go-to guy?

Coach Allen: Catch the ball. I mean, really at the end of the day, we need guys to go up and make plays for us. It's understanding the route combinations, understanding the different techniques of running certain routes, those are all things that you gain with experience. But at the end of the day, what are receivers paid to do is go up and make plays on the ball and that's what we're looking for.

Q: Is [Denarius] Moore your No. 1 guy right now?

Coach Allen: I'd say he's the guy that's got the most experience out there right now. He's a guy that we're counting on being our No. 1 receiver, but we need all those guys and we need some of those young guys. A guy that we drafted in Brice Butler, we're expecting him to be able to step up and compete. I think, at the end of the day, we'll have five, maybe six, receivers, somewhere in there, that have a chance to help this football team.

Q: Coach, do you feel like you have enough veterans on the team? You look at the roster, you've got a lot of young guys. That could be a positive, but at the same time do you think you have the right amount of leadership?

Coach Allen: I feel good about our leadership on the team. I think always, all of us as coaches, you'd love to have a team full of established veterans that have been there, done that, won championships, done those types of things. But really, when you look at it, we've got some veterans on this football team that can lead this football team. McFadden, Marcel Reece, Matt Flynn has done a nice job for us. You go over to the defensive side of the ball, you've got Lamarr Houston and Andre Carter, Nick Roach, Kevin Burnett. Then you go into the back end and we've got a bunch of players there. Charles Woodson is a guy we brought in to not only be a playmaker for us, but fill some of that veteran leadership that we need back there. So I feel good with where we're at from a veteran standpoint as well as a lot of young talent.

Q: Sean Payton mentioned something last week about interest in doing a joint practice with you guys before the exhibition game. Is that something you're considering?

Coach Allen: It's something that we've talked about. I don't think that's going to end up working out, but it is something we kicked the idea around really both sides.

Q: You said you saw improvements on both sides of the ball today. We could see the improvements from the quarterback perspective. Talk about the improvements you saw today on the defensive side.

Coach Allen: I thought our execution on defense was better. I think we're running to the ball. I think we're doing a great job of being able to get our hands up and knock some balls down at the line of scrimmage. I think every day we go out there, our guys get a little bit more comfortable working with each other. It gives us the ability to be a little bit more multiple, a little bit more flexible, in what we're trying to do defensively. Really, it's more from the standpoint of really the knowledge of the defense and what we're trying to get executed as much as it is about the playmaking ability. I think we've got enough playmakers on our team that if we'll execute, we'll be able to make plenty of plays defensively.

Q: How much will the depth and veterans at cornerback this year allow you to be more multiple on defense?

Coach Allen: It's a critical area of our football team. The way the National Football League is now, everything is centered around the quarterback. Offensively, it's centered around the quarterback. Defensively, what can you do to affect the quarterback? And that's rush and coverage. We've got to be able to have both parts working together. I think our coverage aspect is going to help our rush this year.

Q: What do you see from the special teams unit? You brought in Bobby April, veteran special teams coach, what do you see there?

Coach Allen: Bobby has done a great job. I think he, along with Keith Burns, have done an excellent job with our special teams. Right now, we've got everybody working special teams. We're putting a huge emphasis on that this year and I think with the depth we've been able to add on our football team, it's going to allow us to play a lot faster on special teams.

Q: What have you seen out of Sio Moore?

Coach Allen: I like Sio. Sio is a rookie. He makes some rookie mistakes, but he's a big, powerful man. He's got a little bit of pass rush ability to him, so I like some of the flexibility he gives us.

Q: You talked last year with Miles rookie and rookie mistakes how he didn't make the same mistake twice. Once he made it, he learned. Is Sio that kind of guy where when he makes a mistake he's able to learn from it quickly?

Coach Allen: What you look at, you look at football intelligence and he's got some football intelligence, some football savvy about him. We've got a big volume of stuff that we're throwing at him and sometimes it can overload him. He's a guy that continues to go out there and work every day. His work ethic and his understanding of football is going to allow him to be a good player for us. As a rookie, we've got to be able to live through some of those rookie mistakes though.

Q: You talked about leaders earlier; how is Andre Carter? Saw him on the sideline teaching up guys. How much is having him helped, especially on the defensive line?

Coach Allen: He's been great. I made mention of him and another guy that's been great in that room is a guy like Lamarr Houston. He's coming into his own as a player and filling a leadership role for us. That's critical. You've got to have players in the locker room that buy into the system, that buy into the philosophy of what we're trying to get accomplished, that preach the same message. At the end of the day, when their expectation of themselves is either equal to or greater than what our expectation of them is as coaches, then that's when you really have something.

Q: Is [Charles] Woodson diving into the role you wanted him to do in terms of on the field and also a leadership or is he just kind of picking his spots? What are you seeing there?

Coach Allen: Wood's been great. He's done everything we've asked him to do. He's really exactly what we thought we were going to be able to get in a player like that, a Hall of Fame-caliber player that's made a lot of plays on the football over his career. We're going to continue to ask him to do those things. I think as he's gone throughout his career he's taken on more of a leadership role. He's done a nice job in that regard for us.

Q: Do you see Rashad Jennings getting a lot of carries just to keep Darren fresh this year?

Coach Allen: I think that'll play out as we go through the rest of the off-season and in training camp. When we put the pads on and really start getting after it, we'll see where he's at from a run game standpoint. I've been impressed with some of the things I've seen so far, but that's still kind of remains to be seen.

Q: [Menelik] Watson came in with a reputation of a guy really intriguing athletic skills, but hadn't played ton of football yet though. Has that showed itself or is he farther along maybe than some people think?

Coach Allen: I don't know what other people think. I know where we are and we're pleased with where he's at. Again, he, like all rookies, makes his mistakes. But, I wouldn't say he's out of place. I wouldn't say he's a fish out of water. He's no different than a lot of rookies, but you do see the athletic skill. You do see the physical talent he has.

Q: You mentioned Criner. What did you see last year and what does he need to do to get better?

Coach Allen: I think a lot of that is going to be confidence. As a rookie last year, he didn't see much play time. He had a great off-season and made a lot of big plays for us in the off-season. Then we kind of lost him a little bit as we went along. But he's a guy that's a big body that has good catching radius that really makes it comfortable for the quarterback to be able to throw the ball to him in a contested environment.

Q: What's your take on Tyler Wilson? I don't know if he's good at poker or what, but he looks comfortable out there, doesn't come off as some rookie that's just learning and being overwhelmed with the amount he has to learn.

Coach Allen: I think that's one of the things about him. He's got some moxie to him. He's got some [savvy] to him. He's still got a long way to go as far as learning the offense, learning the NFL game, but he's a guy that hopefully we can develop and he can be better for us.

Q: Does he look like a fourth round pick or does he look like more? Is it way too early to say?

Coach Allen: We haven't even put the pads on and put him in a real contested environment, so we'll see when we get into training camp where he's at.

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