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Coach Allen Talks OTAs Week 2

Coach Allen: Obviously, today going out there and practice, it was obvious we had a long weekend with Memorial Day weekend. I don't think we were as crisp as we needed to be in practice today. We only get a certain amount of opportunities and we didn't practice the way we needed to today. But good news is guys are still out there; they're competing. They're trying to do everything we're asking them to do to get better. From an injury standpoint, we've got several guys that either didn't practice or couldn't finish practice – Tracy Porter's still got the calf, Coye Francies was ill, Stacy McGee still has the foot, Miles Burris has a knee, Jon Hoese's got a calf, [Josh] Cribbs still with a knee, [Nick] Kasa's got a hamstring and Johnny Jones got a knee. DJ Hayden did not practice today. He's got an abdominal issue. It's probably going to keep him out the rest of OTAs, but he should be ready to go for training camp.

Q: With Hayden, does it have anything to do with his injury from last year?

Coach Allen: We can't rule that out, obviously. Right now, I don't know exactly what the correlation is to it. But we don't anticipate it being an issue.

Q: Does that include mini-camp?

Coach Allen: He'll probably be out for the rest of the off-season and be ready to go for training camp.

Q: As a rookie, how much does that hold him back?

Coach Allen: Well, that's obviously not a good thing. From a football standpoint, as a rookie you need all the reps you can get and all the work you can get. And then when you combine that with Tracy [Porter] being out really most of last week and potentially this week, we'll see, that kind of sets us back a little bit.

Q: How disappointing is it when you have a practice, you talk about how you have limited opportunities right now, when they're not sharp, what's the explanation for that? And as a coach, how do you…

Coach Allen: I think, when you look at it, they were off on Friday. They had Memorial Day off so really they had a four-day weekend and we weren't as crisp mentally and into it as much as we needed to be. It's not uncommon. It's not the first time I've ever seen that happen, but we have to learn from that. We have to move forward and we have to take advantage of our next two opportunities that we have the next two days to get better.

Q: What did you see from Charles Woodson for the first day?

Coach Allen: Just the first day, we got him out there in a limited role. I think he's still feeling his way around a little bit. I don't have any concerns that he'll be ready to roll. We'll kind of work him in a little bit more as we keep going.

Q: Woodson and Porter and a couple veteran guys who have won Super Bowls, been to Pro Bowls – what sort of added confidence do you hope that their presence rubs off on the rest, in addition to what they bring on the field?

Coach Allen: I think any time you've got guys that have been through it and they've won the ultimate prize in this league, they kind of know what it takes to get there. It's not easy. It's a real challenge to get that done and having guys that have done it and been through it, I think that's a positive. I said this the other day, Charles Woodson plays the game with a little bit of a swagger. That's what the real good teams do, so hopefully he'll bring some of that with him to our football team.

Q: Is Hayden here or is he getting looked at elsewhere?

Coach Allen: He was at the hospital.

Q: Locally?

Coach Allen: Yes.

Q: Did this come up last week or when did this first pop up?

Coach Allen: I think Tuesday or Wednesday of last week.

Q: What were some of the symptoms?

Coach Allen: You know, I'm not going to get into all the details of it. He's out right now.

Q: What are your impressions so far of Nick Roach and what has he brought to the table?

Coach Allen: He's brought what we had anticipated he would bring. He's a veteran guy that he's never really had the opportunity to say, 'this is his time to run the show.' And he's getting that opportunity here. He's done an outstanding job so far. He's very intelligent, does a great job of running the huddle for us and getting us into the right checks and the right defenses. And so, it's still early in the off-season, but I've been pleased with what he's done so far.

Q: Lucas Nix was running with the first team at left guard. Are him and Tony [Bergstrom] kind of competing for that spot at this point?

Coach Allen: We're going to mix and match a little bit and Lucas and Tony were both two young guys that we wanted to look at on the interior of our offensive line. Both of them have done a nice job so far. It was kind of his day to be up with the ones.

Q: Is Matt Flynn the starting quarterback?

Coach Allen: Yeah, right now that's the way we're going. Just like we've said before, we want to try to create as much competition as we can on this football team. That's how you get better. When everybody competes and they compete in a way that they want to do what's best for the football team, the cream always rises to the top. So Matt is our starting quarterback as we go forward right now. Until the competition dictates otherwise, that's the way we're going.

Q: What are you expecting from Darren McFadden this year in terms of his health and production?

Coach Allen: Well, I'm hoping that he's going to get back to the explosive guy that he was two years ago. Some of the things we're doing schematically fits him a little bit better, but we'll see when we get out there and start playing games. Nobody has a crystal ball. Nobody knows what the health's going to be. But that's something that you can't really concern yourself about; you have to go out there and play football the way it's meant to be played and we'll have a plan no matter what happens.

Q: You talked about Charles brings his Super Bowl experience here, but the fact that he chose the Raiders over a lot of other teams, also gives credence to what you guys are doing here right?

Coach Allen: I think in talking with Charles when he came in on the visit, it was apparent to me that he wanted to be part of the Raiders. This is a tradition-rich organization and I think he can see some of the things we're doing to try to get back to those winning ways. At the end of the day, as a player, as a coach, whatever, you want to have a vision for success and I think we're putting some of those pieces together.

Q: Latavius Murray looks big and strong out there. He was quick to come in for Darren McFadden. He's doing a lot of things. I see him out there returning kicks as well. What have you liked that you've seen so far from him?

Coach Allen: Well, those things. He's a big, physical runner. But I think probably the thing that's been most impressive is that he's picked up everything offensively from a schematic standpoint assignment-wise. He's done a great job. He's done a nice job in pass protection. That's one of the things you see with young backs that they struggle with at times. He's a pretty intelligent player and again, we're practice No. 4, so I'm not going to get too far out in front with these rookie players. They'll define themselves when we put the pads on, when we really get to start working, going through training camp and start playing preseason games.

Q: With such a turned over roster, is this more another step in the rebuilding process or more a fresh start?

Coach Allen: I wouldn't use the term "rebuilding." We're trying to win. I think that's what you do in this league and you try to win football games. We're going to try to do whatever we feel like we need to do to try to do that. I do think we've brought in some pieces that I think will help us in that regard.

Q: How much of a difference does it make to have a roster where instead of having a lot of players that sort of say, 'we'll go along with this; we'll give it a shot,' as opposed to having guys that seem to be really jumping in and being onboard?

Coach Allen: Listen, I think you can ask anybody in this league that's had success, the teams that had success eventually in some point in time the players take over. They understand the commitment that it takes to have success in this league and win in this league. For you to do that on a consistent basis, those guys have to understand what the expectations are. When their expectations of themselves are equal to or greater than what our expectations of them as coaches are, then that's when you've got them. I don't think we're there yet, but I think we're moving in that direction.

Q: Are there any very young players, undrafted free agents, some of the guys at the very bottom of the roster that really caught your eye?

Coach Allen: There's so many new faces out there, it's hard to keep up with all of them. Some of those guys have done a nice job. A guy like Conner Vernon is a guy that kind of stood out a little bit. I guess that'd be one guy that I would say.

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