The defense huddles up. **Photo by Tony Gonzales
The Oakland Raiders took the field for their fifth OTA day of the 2012 off-season. Players are continuing to improve, gain confidence, and understand the systems put in place by Head Coach Dennis Allen and his staff. "I thought the guys were flying around again," said Coach Allen. "I thought the execution was pretty good and overall I've been pleased. I think when you're the head coach and you come off of practice, you want the defense to look good at times and you want the offense to look good at times, and I think we did that today."
Coach Allen's goal for each OTA day is to consistently improve. "I've said this from day one and I'll say this until the season's over with - we want to get better one day at a time, one step at a time," said Coach Allen. "If we do that, at the end of the day we'll like the results."
The players are adapting to the new offensive and defensive schemes and like what they are learning. "It's a great scheme," said SS Tyvon Branch. "It gives the guys a lot of opportunities to make plays. I love it."
CB Ron Bartell, who joined the Raiders in March, is also happy with the defensive scheme. "I love the scheme," said Bartell. "It's a multiple-look scheme that puts a lot of different people in position to make plays. Some schemes are predicated on D-line, some are linebackers, some on the secondary play. But it puts everybody on every level of defense and gives you the opportunity to make plays. It gives guys a chance to show their versatility. So from that standpoint, I'm excited."
"I love this new scheme," echoed LB Travis Goethel. "We've got a lot more stuff going on. We're coming from everywhere. I feel really good about this defense."
The defense is working well with defensive coordinator Jason Tarver and their position coaches. "Coach Tarver, he's a young, energetic coordinator," said Bartell. "We've got some good DB coaches, a young staff. So it's just a lot of excitement right now. So from that standpoint, we're just ready to get everybody on the same page and see what happens."
Branch is back for his fifth season with the Raiders and, although he missed the voluntary veteran camp in April, is working well with Coach Tarver. "[He's a] great guy, smart guy," said Branch. "He definitely knows what he's doing."
One of CB Shawntae Spencer's determining factors in signing with the Silver and Black was working with Coach Tarver and defensive backs coach Johnnie Lynn again. "I'm pretty familiar with the scheme," said Spencer. "There are some things [Tarver's] changed, some things he's added in and things that that, but that really helped me out as far as the learning curve coming in and being able to be on top and play fast."
The players are buying in to Coach Allen's methodology. "It's very in your face as far Coach Allen," explained Spencer. "Very, very instrumental, especially the secondary. He's been a secondary coach and knows what it looks like, what it's supposed to look like. That's what he's demanding from us. I'm sure it's quite the same on the offensive side of the ball with the [offensive coordinator] and that entire staff over there. It's no-nonsense. It doesn't matter who you are, what you've done. They want everyone to embrace the team concept, playing together, playing within each scheme."
The offense is working hard to learn the new schemes and feeling confident in their progress. "Everything feels great with the new offense," said TE David Ausberry. "We're making a lot of progress every day and it feels good to be back on the field again."
Ausberry is using this time to learn as much as he can from QB Carson Palmer, who has openly praised Ausberry's skills. "A vet like Carson, you always want a guy like that in your corner," said Ausberry. "It helps when you have some sort of relationship with the starting quarterback because you begin to feel each other on the field and it helps a lot. I'm just blessed to be in this position."
RB Mike Goodson is finding his place within the offense and is enjoying more opportunities to catch the ball out of the backfield. "It's huge. I've had a chance to run some routes out here and they use me a lot more as a receiver here, too, so I'm loving that," said Goodson.
Goodson is also finding his place amid the running backs. "In this offense, you're definitely going to need more than one guy," said Goodson. "Darren's a great back. I've been watching film on him since I've been here and the things he does with the ball are amazing, but you need another guy that can run the ball."
The head coach is happy with how the team is improving through the fifth day of OTAs. I think there have been a lot of guys that have made some progress," said Coach Allen. "I've been really pleased with all of the progress of all of our guys."
The Raiders will conclude their second week of OTAs with a practice on Thursday. Log on to Raiders.com, the Raiders official Facebook page, and Twitter for coverage.