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Coach Allen Talks OTAs Week 3

Coach Allen: Starting off, listen, today's practice was much better than it was last week. I thought the guys were focused. We did a better job today. Still, this is part of what OTAs are for is to be able to go through these things, be able to see it live, and then we get a chance to go back into the meetings and make whatever corrections we need to make. You guys were all out there – you saw what practice looked like. I thought we had some opportunities to make some big plays and those are the plays that we got to make sure we can make come Sunday. Those things have a big opportunity to be big plays for us, so with that, I'll open it up to questions.

Q: Couple guys out – [Christo] Bilukidi and [Jacoby] Ford.

Coach Allen: Bilukidi kind of rolled his ankle last week and Ford tweaked his hamstring.

Q: Coach, I know you're looking for a balance in your offense this year, but when you've got a guy like Darren McFadden, you kind of want to build an offense around him. How does he look? How does he feel? What do you feel about how he's going to fit in?

Coach Allen: I think he's looked good. I think Darren's excited about the things we're doing offensively, getting some more gap schemes in there, a little more downhill type of stuff for him, which suits him. He's obviously one of our more explosive players, so we want to make sure we try to put him in position that he feels good and feels comfortable. I think so far in OTAs he's looked good.

Q: [DJ] Hayden out there…Is there an update on him? Is he still out until camp?

Coach Allen: Yeah, it's same situation. Everything went fine, everything was kind of as we had hoped and anticipated. So, obviously, it's a little bit uncharted waters, but we still feel comfortable that he'll be back and ready to go in camp. We still have seven weeks before we start training camp. It's 51 days from now until we start training camp, so we feel confident he'll be back and ready to go.

Q: Will he be completely shut down until then or is there a plan to maybe get him…

Coach Allen: Well he won't go through the OTAs and the mini-camp, but they'll be a plan to kind of get him in shape and get him ready to go so he's ready for training camp.

Q: Tracy Porter was back today; did you expect him to be back by this point?

Coach Allen: Well, we were hopeful. I think late last week we kind of had an idea that he might be able to be back and be able to go. I'll take a look at the tape and really see how he was able to function in there. From what I saw, it looks like he's fine and ready to roll.

Q: What was the bounce back like last week after the first practice?

Coach Allen: I thought the guys responded well. I thought they really responded well. I thought the last three days of practice, or the last two days of practice I should say, were a lot better. That's what you look for is…Listen, they're not going to have their "A" game every day out there and the key to me is how do they respond when they get challenged. I thought they did a nice job responding. I thought they responded well today.

Q: You've had a couple weeks now with the guys. Do you have a better idea of how Nick Roach fits into the defense and what you can do with him?

Coach Allen: Yeah, Nick's highly intelligent and he's athletic and so he's done a nice job of kind of being the quarterback of our defense. He's kind of taken on that role and really has a passion about really leading that team. He's done a nice job. I think with his athleticism - he's not maybe your prototypical MIKE linebacker - he's got some things he can do from a coverage standpoint that lends some flexibility to us.

Q: How big is it to have that leadership from that position because you didn't have that last year?

Coach Allen: Huge. I think really within the whole team, we're looking to identify who are those leaders going to be on the whole team. Those are the things that have got to come out as we finish up these OTAs, mini-camp and we get into training camp. Like I said last week I believe it was, to have success and the really good football teams, the players take over. The locker room takes over. Nick's one of those guys that we anticipate filling that role.

Q: Were you disappointed last year in the guys you thought might be leaders last year?

Coach Allen: Hey listen, I'm on to this year. I'm not really concerned with where we were last year. That's behind us. I'm worried about what we're going to do this year and how we're going to respond this year.

Q: Do you see those leadership qualities on the other side of the ball with a guy like Matt Flynn?

Coach Allen: Yeah, I think that's one of the things when you look at him, I think he does have some of those leadership skills. I think some of the other guys that have stepped up and taken on a little bit more of a leadership role, a guy like a Marcel Reece is a guy that comes to mind that was one of our challenges to him this year. We've got to identify guys on both sides of the ball that really can take that leadership role on. Really it comes a lot to, I don't know if I want to use the term peer pressure, but that's really what it is. It's accountability to each other in the locker room that you don't want to let the guy next to you down.

Q: [Pat] Sims and [Vance] Walker inside. You did an almost complete makeover of the interior line on the defensive line other than Christo. Can they be the kind of interior presence you need to stop the run this year?

Coach Allen: I think, when you really look at it, that's probably what they're best suited to do right now. I think they are. They play the run square. They come off and attack blocks like they're supposed to. They've been gap sound and fundamental in that regard.

Q: You can see that in non-contact?

Coach Allen: You can see pad level and those types of things. But really what you do is you go back and you look at the tape from what they were able to do in their previous stops and see how they were able to play the run there. And that's really what they're best suited to do.

Q: Tracy Porter was lined up inside on some things too. Does he bring some versatility and can move him around?

Coach Allen: He's been in there some. He's got some familiarity with the system. We've got to have multiple guys that can go inside and play in the slot. We've got Joselio Hanson that can go in there. Tracy's another guy that can go in there and play.

Q: How's Marquette King's consistency been in terms of the punts you've seen? Last year, in training camp before he got hurt, it was seven out of 10 he could kick with Shane [Lechler] and then three other ones would be…

Coach Allen: Well, that's the big thing with Marquette. And that's what we're going to be evaluating as we go through this process all the way through the preseason games. It's consistency. It's not really unlike any other position, but the guys that can be the most consistent in the National Football League, those end up being the best players. That's one of the things he's got to continue to work on. I think he's improved that. I don't think he's where he needs to be yet, but he has improved in that area.

Q: What was the biggest problem last year on special teams and you replaced the coach there? What did you see last year and what are you hoping to see this year?

Coach Allen: Again, I'm not really going to address what transpired last year. I'm excited about where we're going from a special teams standpoint. I think when you increase some of the depth, that's one of the things we talked about at the linebacker position, we increased the depth there. We improved the secondary. All those things, there's always a trickle-down effect into special teams. I think if you want to talk about last year, one of the things that I can do better as a head coach is really place the importance and emphasis on special teams and how that correlates to winning and losing football games. The better we are at controlling the field position battle, the better we're going to increase our odds both offensively and defensively of having success.

Q: What does [special teams coordinator] Bobby [April] bring to the mix?

Coach Allen: He's been doing this for a long time and done it at a real high level. I'm extremely happy that we've been able to bring him in here. When you watch him out on the practice field and the fundamentals that he brings to the table, there's plenty he's got from a schematic standpoint, but the fundamentals is really where I can already see a little bit of improvement.

Q: Did you catch wind of Chris Kluwe turning down a trip to the White House to come to mini-camp? Did you hear about that and what do you think?

Coach Allen: I think Chris Kluwe, I think his job is to really focus in on making our football team and that needs to be the biggest focus that he has right now. Right now he's of the same mindset. So that's where we are as far as that's concerned.

Q: You told us last week that it's essentially [Matt] Flynn's job to lose. Can you describe what you've seen over the past three OTAs and how he's adjusted to the team?

Coach Allen: I think he's done a nice job of adjusting. I think when you look at a guy like Matt Flynn, who's got limited experience in the starting quarterback position, what you want to see is growth as you keep going through. Every day he sees a little something new. We've thrown a lot at him, both from an offensive standpoint and what he's seen from our defense. So I just want to see him continue to improve and continue to get better. If he just focuses on that, the rest of it will take care of itself.

Q: We might be getting three steps ahead of the game, but because he hasn't got a lot of experience, do you anticipate him having to play more in the preseason than maybe a normal starter might?

Coach Allen: Well, we'll see. We'll evaluate that as that goes on, but yeah, I think you might even be four steps ahead right now.

Q: Anyone have a leg up at tight end right now or is that totally wide open?

Coach Allen: I really think it's pretty wide open. I think all those guys are doing a nice job. Obviously, it's hurt not having [Nick] Kasa out there because he's a guy we really anticipated being able to step in and potentially fill a role for us. Hopefully we'll get him out there soon. The big thing, again, with those guys, just like it is with everybody else, it's going to be the consistency issue because they are relatively young at the position. Those guys, they're going to make mistakes; I think we all understand that. But the key is, can they learn from those mistakes and not be repeat mistake offenders. Again, like a lot of guys out there, they're improving. They're not where they need to be yet.

Q: At the end of the season you talked about wanting to see a commitment from Terrelle [Pryor] to get better and he's working hard at it and so forth. What have you seen in these last three or four months from him?

Coach Allen: Hey listen, he's working. There's been no lack of effort on his part. I think still, when you look at it at the quarterback position, he's still young in the position. There's still a lot of improvement that he needs to make. He's got a great athletic skill set, but still some of the finer points of playing the quarterback position are still some of the things that he's got to continue to get better at.

Q: Would that come with him being more in games since he didn't really have that opportunity last season?

Coach Allen: Yeah, that'll come with some in-game experience, but again, at the end of the day, everything we do is being evaluated. So we watch every single practice snap so I think we have a pretty good idea of where we're at. We're going to continue to give him opportunities to showcase his skills, but right now, he's not there yet.

Q: Any rookies in particular stand out, not so much on the field, but just attitude-wise from what you've seen so far?

Coach Allen: I'll tell you, I've been pleased with all the rookies from that standpoint. From an attitude standpoint I think they've all come in, they're eager to learn. They're eager to learn from the older guys and to get better. From an attitude standpoint, guys that love football, guys that want to work, all those types of things, I've got no complaints as far as that's concerned. They're still rookies. They have a lot of getting better to do.

Q: How would you describe [Tyler] Wilson in the first couple of OTAs? What have you seen from him and his progression?

Coach Allen: Like Reggie [McKenzie] said, he is lining up under the center so that's a start. No, hey listen; every day is a learning experience for him. He continues to progress. Again, he's got a long way to go. He's a rookie quarterback and that's hard in this league and I don't care who you are. That's a tough proposition, but every day he goes through a learning experience and he gets better. Again, just like everybody else, you hope that when you make those corrections that you don't see repeat mistakes. I think he's learning from those things and getting better in that regard.

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