Opening statement: **"Good to have everyone here. We're just getting started. Good, productive start to the offseason."
Q: Have you seen anything in practice that will change what you think you need in the draft? Or is your draft mindset pretty well-set right now?
Coach Del Rio: "I would say that we'll spend some time between now and then reviewing our thoughts coming out of this mini-camp. I haven't had a chance to really collect and process that information. There is new information. We had what we anticipated seeing and then there is what we saw. We will work through that and meet on that and talk about that. That may alter a couple things. We've obviously done a lot of work leading up to where we are today. We don't want to discount what we just went through. I think it's valuable that you get a chance to work with your team like that. We want to take advantage of that information."
Q: How different is what you anticipated versus what you saw this week?
Coach Del Rio:"Not a lot different. There are some things that stood out that you make note of and make sure we discuss."
Photos from the third day of the Raiders voluntary veteran mini-camp.
Q: What are you trying to accomplish this week? Is setting the tone one of the keys?**
Coach Del Rio:"Certainly one of the key things is to develop the mentality that we're going to have here. Clearly, system implementation is part of it. The teaching and the understanding of the techniques that we want to develop and see our players perform with on game days, that's all part of it. The biggest, for me, is the mentality, the culture, the way we expect to come out and work every day. How we're going to meet, how we are going to provide information, how they're going to absorb information, how they're going to make use of the time that we're here. That we're not just here going through the motions but that we're here putting in work with a purpose."
Q: The players that weren't practicing today, were they all guys that you knew coming in weren't going to be practicing?
Coach Del Rio:"Don't care to get into discussions about injuries. Guys are here, we had everybody here. The guys that were able to work and perform, we did that. The guys that needed to not be in there, we held them out. There are a couple guys that will be out throughout the offseason, that won't be back until [training] camp. We do know that. Again, this time of year, I'm going to stay away from those types of discussions."
Q: You've got music going. Is that something you've done previously?
Coach Del Rio:"I think it'll be part of how we operate. The music levels will change, based on what we think is appropriate. If it's a teach period or whether one side of the ball is emphasizing the noise, we'll operate with that throughout the year."
Q: Does it set a mood? Are there other things other than just the noise?**
Coach Del Rio:"There are other benefits that we feel are appropriate. It's a part of something that we do. I've done it a little bit in the past and it's something that we're going to do going forward."
Q: Is there something from Michael Crabtree that made you think he was a good fit for your team?
Coach Del Rio:"Prior to him coming on a visit, the awareness of him being a player that was taken high and had played well in the start to his career. We were able to have him come visit and the fit was one that was good for him and good for us and we made a deal."
Q: What do you think he brings to the team?
Coach Del Rio:"He brings sure hands, the ability to separate and catch the ball. He's got a few skins on the wall, so to speak. He's played in big games. He's made big catches. He's had significant production in the first six years of his career. He's a good football player."
Photos from the second day of the Raiders voluntary veteran mini-camp.
Q: The knock on him has been on his attitude in the past. Did you have to address those issues or do you feel he was misrepresented?**
Coach Del Rio:"I don't know that I'd really concern myself with how people felt before he got here. I'm really most concerned with the teammate that he is and the player that he is for us here and now. Our focus will be on him being a good teammate and him competing for his role, creating his role, working with the quarterbacks, getting on the same page and being a productive player for us."
Q: It's your first chance to see the team on the field, but also your first time to work with this coaching staff on the field. How did it go?
Coach Del Rio:"Love it. I've got a really good staff. Lot of energy, lot of good teaching and that's just going to grow. It's a good beginning for us building relationships with the players. I'm a big believer in us having relationships with our players. Them understanding that we're here every day doing everything we can to help them be better at what they do and help us be better."
Q: Is it interesting for you to see what you've been able to do in the office translate to the field?
Coach Del Rio:"Everything we touch, we want to be better. Every area that we have a chance to improve, we want to improve it. Anything that we see that doesn't look like it fits, we want to make sure that we adjust and get it right. We're attacking everything. In meeting with the players, we want to make sure that we're attacking the meetings. The way we train our players, the way we feed our players, the way we educate our players, all of it. It's all a part of it. The environment that they come in to every day, we want them to be proud of where they pull up and go to work every day. Where we work out, where we meet and all those things, it's important. They spend a lot of time here every day."
Q: How does it feel for you to be back on the field as a head coach?**
Coach Del Rio:"It feels great. I haven't really spent a lot of time worrying about feelings. I've kind of been head down, grinding. This is a very busy time of year. We're busy in preparation for the draft, that's fast approaching. To be able to get out on the field with our players is a valuable time to get this beginning. Obviously, getting the staff up to speed also. It's been a very busy time. Certainly an honor to be in this position, particularly for this organization. I've always been a fan of the Raiders and to have the honor of leading this organization, it's quite an honor."
Q: It looked like Matt McCants was getting reps at both guard and tackle. Is that just a position-versatility thing, where you want to see him play in both spots?
Coach Del Rio: "Well, we're definitely taking a look at a few different players in a few different spots and looking for the right combination for us. He's had a crack there and we've had a number of people working there. We'll keep working them."
Q: Are you the type of coach who defines leadership roles and captaincy, or do you think those things should happen organically?
Coach Del Rio: "There are certain positions where you certainly hope you have leadership qualities in those positions. Quarterback would be a primary spot where you'd like to have leadership abilities with people that you have in that position, in that room. I think there are some positions like that where there's a natural need for some of that leadership, but I think beyond that, throughout the team, guys kind of earn their way with how they work and how committed they are to doing the right things, how willing they are to challenge others, to bring them along. And there are different forms of leadership. Some guys are more vocal leaders; some guys are by example leaders. A common denominator in guys that we want to lead are going to be guys that are doing things the right way, doing things to help as grow as an organization and win. We'll look to identify those guys and make sure we do all we can to help them grow in that role as a leader."
Photos from the first day of the Raiders voluntary veteran mini-camp.
Q: What are your expectations for the team this year? **
Coach Del Rio: "I expect us to come to work every day and give everything we have to our number one goal, which is to win our division. So for me, in everything we're doing when we come to work every day, it's to work with a purpose. It's to go after each and every day, to not ever get in the position where you're just coming in and punching the clock, [but] where you come in here and you're accomplishing something, you're growing, you're learning, you're learning something about your position, you're learning a technique, you're learning how to study your opponent – whatever it is – you're training your body. What we are is we're in the stage of creating habits that we're going to play with this year. We need work on our habits. We need to develop winning habits. You don't want to have to think, you want to be able to react and respond. So it's imperative that we create those winning habits by daily repetition and getting good at some of the basic fundamentals that we need to be good at."
Q: What are your thoughts on the 2015 schedule as it has played out? With a couple of home games early and a lot of divisional games late, how do you think it worked out?
Coach Del Rio: "I think it's a great schedule. I think it's a tough schedule. We play two good divisions and we play a lot of good football teams, and our own division is very strong. I think it's a great schedule the way it lays out, definitely challenging, but I don't know. If you're a Raider fan, you've got to be pleased with the schedule."
Q: The defense seemed to be making some plays today. Has that been the case? Is the defense a little ahead of the offense at this point?
Coach Del Rio: "I like the way the team has come out and worked. I thought each day we got a little bit better. Which side is ahead and all those kinds of things, that's not really a big part of my thinking. I am pleased with the growth I saw each day, but the first day, there was a lot that had to be identified right away in terms of how we practice and how we do things. By Day 2, there was growth there. A lot of those things were embraced and worked on. We pointed out some more things and we'll continue to do that, to grow. But Day 1, 2, 3 – each day I felt like we took strides and took steps and improved, and that will be a huge part of what we're doing."
Q: Did anyone jump off the field to you in terms of exceeding expectations?**
Coach Del Rio: "No, not really. We have some talented players. We have some players that need to get in shape. But no, it's great being out, getting started, really. We've had great weather the past three days; the sun finally came out today. It's been great. Like I said, it's been awesome to get going. We had two weeks in the classroom where you can't go out on the field. It's a little frustrating as a coach. You've got these payers here and they can't go throw on their own field, they have to go to a high school somewhere to get together. But we've battled through that part of it, and now from here on out, we'll be able to get on the field with the players and develop some of the skills."
*Q: What was your message to the team as they broke mini-camp today? *
Coach Del Rio: "Good start. A lot of work to do. Expect to be challenged. Come in here with great energy every day. Be ready to commit yourselves. Be accountable to each other."
Q: What are your initial thoughts on Trent Richardson? I assume he's coming in here with a bit of a chip on his shoulder and something to prove.
Coach Del Rio: "Yeah, what I expect of all the guys that are coming in is that they come in, learn our system, work hard and be great teammates. In his case, he'll be able to speak for himself on that. What we talk about before he came here is to get back to thinking like he did as a young man at Alabama when he first got there as a freshman, where you're just busting your butt every day and doing everything you can to compete with everybody in everything you do. Let's see where that takes you. Let's not get caught up in what could've been or should've been or anything about the past. I don't really care about the past. I know he's a guy that has some significant abilities and we're just going to try to pull out all that we can and help him develop as a young man and as a player into being all that he can. Hopefully, that turns around and he can become all he wants to be."
Q: It looks like Richardson came to Oakland in good shape. Would you agree?
Coach Del Rio: "I think he's like a lot of our guys. I think there's a lot of work to do yet. Where it is relative to, I'm not going to go down the line and kind of rank our guys on where they are, but I can assure you we've looked at it and we are studying that. We will push where we need to push. I'm glad we have everybody here. We have everybody here. That shows a significant commitment by the guys. I respect that and appreciate that. This is a voluntary time of year and they are volunteering to be good, they are volunteering to commit to the work that needs to be done. I respect that and appreciate it."
Q: What influences have led you to construct your practices? What goes into a "Jack Del Rio practice"?
Coach Del Rio: "Well, it's really not a 'Jack Del Rio practice,' it's a Raider practice. Certainly, things that I did as a player, that I've done as a coach, that other coaches have been exposed to, they're all basically a part of the thinking in how we put it all together. We don't get a lot of these opportunities to get out on the field, in particular during this time of year, during the offseason, so a lot of thought has gone into what we want to accomplish and what we hope to create out there. So we're just out there executing that right now, but it's a combination of an awful lot. But it's the Raider way."