Head Coach Dennis Allen spoke to the media after Wednesday's OTA practice. Photo by Tony Gonzales
Q: Nice to have Marcel Reece back?
Coach Allen: Yes, it's nice to have him back. Marcel is behind a little bit, but he is working hard to get caught up in what we are doing offensively. So it is nice to have him back. He has some things, a skill set, that will be beneficial to us.
Q: What sort of challenges does he present to a defense when you're going up against him?
Coach Allen: I think he is an athletic type fullback, and I think where he can really excel is in the passing game and the different mismatches he can create. I think from our standpoint being the lead blocker in our scheme, I think that is where he has the most work he's got to work on, but I think his mismatches in the passing game are something we can use.
Q: Have gradually phased in more things with each OTA or have you been working on a lot of the same stuff throughout?
Coach Allen: Yes, each day is a different install we put a little bit different stuff, but offensively, defensively and in the kicking game so every day we add a little something different.
Q: What will they be getting next week when they do the mandatory camp; is it pretty close to the whole Raiders system that you're going to install?
Coach Allen: Yeah, they will have a lot of it; they still won't have everything but for the most part they'll have the core of what we are going to be.
Q: You were around some great receivers in New Orleans, and then Denarius Moore who seems to be on the cusp. What have you noticed from Denarius Moore compared to some of the guys you've been around?
Coach Allen: I would say he's an exceptional route-runner. He's got great speed. I'm really looking forward to working with Denarius. He's going to be a really good football player for us. I would compare him to, as far as route-running, I would say he's a lot like Lance Moore that we had there in New Orleans, but probably a little bit faster and little bit more of a down-the-field threat.
Q: Anything surprise you now that you've got a chance to see him up close?
Coach Allen: I don't know about surprising. We thought last year he was an outstanding talent and a really good football player. I think the same thing now and I'm looking for good things out of him.
Q: Coach, can you talk a little bit about your offensive line; is that an area where you obviously have to protect Carson and open the holes? What have you seen thus far?
Coach Allen: I think our offensive line has done a nice job, really adapted to the zone-running scheme that we are going to use. It's a lot different than some of the things they were asked to do last year. But I think they have done a nice job of adjusting. I think our offensive line coaches are doing an outstanding job working with those guys. And I think at the end of the day by the time we get through training camp I'll be real pleased with where we are at, offensive-line wise, and what we are going to be able to do.
Q: How's Cooper Carlisle's switch to the left side going? He's almost been exclusively right side all of his career.
Coach Allen: He's done a great job. It's the same plays; he's just got to put his other hand down on the ground. That's the way we look at it. He's done a good job. He's a true professional and that is what has allowed him to last so long in this league and I would expect him to keep battling and competing and he'll have a chance to help us out this year.
Q: How close is Stefen Wisniewski to being back, and how much is this hurting him not being able to get out there?
Coach Allen: I think any time, I said this yesterday on a radio show, each practice, everybody needs to work together to get better. And so, does it set him back? Yes, it sets him back a little, and I wouldn't expect him back before training camp, but I expect once we get to training camp that he will be ready to go. The good thing is, he has been able to be in all the meetings so from a mental standpoint he's up to speed on what we are installing, but there's nothing like getting a rep and going through it.
Q: How about the rookies and undrafted free agents? Who is really sticking out so far?
Coach Allen: Obviously (Juron) Criner has made a couple of plays. I think all of them at times have kind of shown up and made some plays. Miles Burris this week has made some improvement. The veterans were off last week; we got a chance to keep the rookies around a little bit so I think that was good for them, to get some extra attention last week. (Rod) Streater's done a nice job as a free-agent guy, so I've been real impressed with what we were able to do in the draft and through free agency, and picking up some guys that might be able to help us.
Q: I see Tony Bergstrom is playing a little right guard and a little left guard.
Coach Allen: Yes, we've moved him around a little bit and given him a chance to play both sides. I think when you look at the National Football League you have to be multiple and guys are going to have to play multiple positions so when you go into a game on Sunday generally you're going to bring seven offensive linemen into the game. So you're going to bring an inside-swing guy that has the ability to play guard and center and maybe play right and left guard.
Q: Will he get a little run at tackle, too?
Coach Allen: I think we're going to keep him inside right now and see where he's at. I don't want to overload any of our rookie players. It's hard enough trying to learn one position but when you start throwing in there at two or three, it's a little more difficult.
Q: Dennis, what's the feeling of having a quarterback with Palmer's experience from your standpoint? You're a lifer, he's a lifer, so there's reading of the minds I would think in football.
Coach Allen: Well I think it's a comforting feeling to have a veteran guy at quarterback. It's the most important position on the field. That guy has to be an extension of the head coach. He's got to be an extension of the offensive coordinator. And I've said from Day 1, I think he's a great fit for what we're going to do offensively. I'm excited and looking forward to working with him and seeing what he does this year.
Q: It is obviously going to a much different offense. Is it easy for him to adjust to that, just because he's been around the game for so long?
Coach Allen: Well I think when you go back and look at his career and look at where he has been, when you're in the league that long, you see a lot of different things and you're apart of a lot of different offensive schemes. So a lot of the plays are the same. Terminology is probably the biggest thing that's a little different."
Q: Is this Louis Murphy's first week of practicing? Has he been practicing all week?
Coach Allen: Yeah, I think early in camp he got a couple of days in, but this has been the first time in a while that he's been out here.
Q: Philip Wheeler played in cover-two scheme in Indianapolis, and described his duties as pretty much doing the same thing every down. When you're going to play multiple, do you see him fitting in a lot of different ways? Is he a versatile guy that could expand his game a little bit?
Coach Allen: Yeah, I think the thing about him is that he's a really good athlete. He's explosive, he's got speed, he's got some rush ability. Obviously when we play some of our zone coverages, cover-twos and stuff he did there in Indianapolis, he really excels at that. So, I think being able to use guys like that that have that type of athletic ability, where we can kind of move them around and do some different stuff with them, is really going to help us.
Q: What are you looking for down the road from either Mike Goodson or Taiwan Jones to be the number-two guy behind Darren McFadden?
Coach Allen: A guy that can be there every day. There's a lot of things a running back has to be able to do. We're looking for a guy that can run the ball effectively, we're looking for a guy that can pass-protect, and also that's a weapon out of the backfield. I don't look at the backup much differently than I would look at the starting running back. We're going to ask him to do the same type of things, and we're going to expect positive results out of that guy.
Q: McFadden has a youth camp this week I believe?
Coach Allen: Yeah, he's got a football camp that he's working back in Arkansas, I believe. I would expect him back tomorrow.
Q: For Goodson and Jones then, that's a good opportunity for them to get extra work in?
Coach Allen: Yeah, it's a good opportunity for them. It's like anything else in the National Football League, when somebody goes down or somebody's not there, somebody else has to step up. So it's a good time for those young guys to be able to step in and get the reps and make a little progress.
Q: Coach, when McFadden has been healthy, he's been as good as anybody in this game. How do you keep from not pushing him too hard, because he has had the injury problems?
Coach Allen: I don't know if it's a case of pushing him too hard. I think part of the issue is making sure that we do everything that we can in the offseason program, so that his body is in the right condition to handle the type of punishment a runner has to take. I think as we go through this season we're going to have to make sure we monitor him and keep him fresh and keep him healthy, because he is a threat and he is a big part of our offense.
Q: So you get these guys now and then next week for the three days. Then, is it essentially over in terms of contact with the players until training camp?
Coach Allen: Yeah, pretty much. There's not a lot we can do. Players can come in on a voluntary basis and work out in the weight room. But as far as extra meetings and anything like that with our veteran players, the way the rules are now, we can't do anything like that.
Q: Have you put in a lot more roll-out plays, or-out-of-the-pocket plays for Terrelle Pryor, to take advantage of his speed?
Coach Allen: I think what we've done is install our offense and the way that we are going to call plays, and then whatever the situation dictates, whoever the guy that's pulling the trigger back there, we will adjust our scheme accordingly. But we haven't put in any particular plays in for anybody. We've really installed the scheme more than game-planning for anyone.
Q: How'd he do today, Terrelle?
Coach Allen: I think he did like a lot of guys out here today. I think he had some good plays and I think he had some bad plays. That's to be expected this time of year. I'm not going to read too much into that, because what I have seen from Terrelle Pryor is day-in and day-out he gets a little bit better and that's all we can ask for, is that he keeps making progress and he's done that so far.
Q: Coach you're part of a new day here. This is the first year without Al Davis and it's your first head coaching job in the NFL. What's this experience been like, just the few months you've been here?
Coach Allen: It's been honor and a lot of fun. I think Al Davis was obviously an icon in professional sports, not just in the National Football League. I think what he did here with the Raiders organization and how he built the organization and the loyalty that he's created within the organization makes this one of the best organizations in sports to work for. I'm excited about trying to meet the standards that are here for the Raiders in the Bay Area. We won't do everything exactly the way it's been done before; we'll put our own stamp on it. I'm excited to work for the Raiders.
Q: What do you say to Raiders fans in reference to what type of team they should expect to see out on the field?
Coach Allen: Well, just like I said from Day 1, we're going to be a tough, smart, disciplined football team. We are going to play the game the right way. We are going to play fast, and we're going to play tough, and they can expect a team that they are going to be proud of.
Q: How would you letter grade OTAs overall to this point?
Coach Allen: You know, I'm really not into giving a letter grade. Here's what I would say: Just like anything, I don't think you're graded until the final process is over, so I'll give you a grade at the end of the season and tell how you how I think everything went. I think so far the process has gone pretty well.
Q: It's been said that Matt Leinart would have a little more familiarity in Gregg Knapp's system. Has that been evident as you watched him play, over the other quarterbacks?
Coach Allen: Yeah, he is more familiar with it. He's been in the system for a couple of years now. He does have familiarity with the offense and I think that does nothing but help all the quarterbacks because any time you can add a pro like Matt Leinart who's been around, who's seen a lot of different things, other quarterbacks can bounce those ideas off of, I think it's a positive for all of us. I think those three guys (Leinart, Palmer and Pryor), in particular, have worked very well together and have been in a supportive role with each other.
Q: What do guys like (DeMarcus) Van Dyke and (Chimdi) Chekwa get now that they missed out on last year in not having an off-season program last year?
Coach Allen: Well, they get an opportunity just like the rest of the guys, to go through the offseason program. And like I said before, you have to practice to get better. Those guys being able to go through a full off-season program of learning the system will do nothing but benefit them down the line.
Q: How vigilant have you guys been in making sure contact doesn't get out of hand. I know one team has already gotten docked a couple of days; it's happened here in past years. How do you gauge what is too much? How difficult is that?
Coach Allen: It's difficult, because I think all of us as coaches, we want to do the best that we can, but also make sure we are within the rules. We're trying to do everything we can to practice the right way and get something out of it, but yet, try to do it within the rules of what's been set forth within the new CBA. I think everyday we've gone out and preached the message of no contact and try to stay up off the ground, basically when you come into contact with somebody to shut it down.
Q: Going back to Marcel, could he get more carries this year, with Mike Bush being gone? Do you see that as a possibility?
Coach Allen: Yes, that is a potential. We are still trying to evaluate Marcel. We've had him out here now, this is his third day to be out here. We have to have a little bit of time before we start figuring out weather we are going to get him more carries.
Q: Coach has it been a little easier for you and Reggie as you mention to put your stamp on this team just because you're starting fresh, just as we talk about a whole new era for the Raiders?
Coach Allen: Well I do think that Mr. Davis, Mark Davis, has really allowed us the freedom to do what we think is right for the organization, do what we think is right for the football operations, so from that standpoint, yeah I think it's been a good situation for both of us.