Oakland Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie met with local writers Tuesday at the team's Alameda, Calif., facility and discussed numerous topics as the team sits in second place in the AFC West with a 3-3 record.
On competing for the division…
Reggie McKenzie: That was the plan, yes, we felt good coming out of training camp. Trying to stay healthy, that's what it's all about now. We set out to win the division, we thought that's realistic, we felt like we had the talent to compete with everyone in our division, including Denver, we just got to figure out a way to win them. That's still our goal. That being said, winning the division gets you in the playoffs. We want to be a playoff contender.
On the free agent class…*
RM: So far so good. We had a plan for each and every one of those guys, kind of going according to play so far. [Safety] Nate [Allen], we were able to get him activated this week. We'll see how he's going, see if he can come along. I've never done it before, going after so many free agents. We had a lot to spend, I couldn't keep it in my pockets. We had to spend it. We went after some guys and we were fortunate that the decision they made was to come here. We're happy with the guys we got. You can run down the list, those guys not only produced on the field, they're good leaders, and good locker room guys. The guys gravitate towards each other. The offensive linemen love [center Rodney] Hudson, the d-linemen with [defensive tackle] Dan [Williams], they're meshing. When you get a lot of new moving parts if you can get to get them to mesh you have to get the right kind of people. We feel pretty good that we got the right guys.
On center Rodney Hudson…
RM: We thought he was a good player. Money aside, at the end of the day, do you like the player? We liked the player. The market dictates everything else. We penciled him in as a guy we really liked, that we wanted. Once we found that he was interested we just went after it. Yes, he's what we thought.
On quarterback Derek Carr…*
RM: He's right where we thought. I'm never surprised with that guy. He wants it bad, he's a competitor, he's smart, he's going to find a way to get it done, even if he slips and has a bad game, bad plays, whatever, he'll bounce back, that's just him. He's doing exactly what we felt like he could. It's good to know you have a quarterback you feel good about playing on Sundays. It's a good thing to know that you've got a quarterback. That goes without saying. If you don't have one, it's hard to compete on Sundays.
On rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper…
RM: If you watch the guy play live, watch him practice, interview him, he's a pro mentality guy. You don't have to worry about anything when he leaves this building. He's very conscientious. Carr and Crab and all those guys have a good relationship. We hoped he'd be this good, especially with the quarterback we've got, we felt like we could get him the ball. Is he more? I don't know. I was just excited to get him, I'm just glad he turned out, he's healthy and everything is good so far.
On safety Charles Woodson's production…*
RM: I've learned to expect it. He's one of those guys, he's special, he really is. His body goes through a lot, one thing you can do, you can count on him. Whatever he's lost he's going to make up for in some other kind of way. He's a true definition of a football player.
On cornerback DJ Hayden…
RM: Originally, to me, he had to come back from the injury when he came out. He had a couple of other injuries that just kept nagging him. Once he got over that, I feel like his body was stronger enough to be more physical in his play. And with that he began to get confident. That was his No. 1 thing, he just wasn't a confident player, for whatever reason. I think he feels good about his athletic ability and his body now, mentally he just needs to figure out what [assistant defensive backs coach] Rod [Woodson] and [defensive backs coach] Marcus [Robertson] want to coach him up to do. The more games he has like this past week, the more confident he'll get. He's got a ways to go that way, but as soon as he realizes his skillset he's going to be a solid football player.
On linebacker Aldon Smith…*
RM: Going in, we did a lot of research on that, at the end of the day, when we said we were going to go ahead and go after him, we just wanted to let him join the family and help him every kind of way we can. That's what we're doing. It's definitely a growth process when you don't go to training camp. He spent some time getting his legs back but he's definitely a good player for us now. It may not add up in the stat sheet from sacks. The numbers are going to come, the splash plays are going to come. We're good with Aldon.
If Aldon Smith is in the team's long term plans…
On rookie defensive end Mario Edwards Jr…
RM: The one thing that he showed was that he had a knack for being an instinctive football player, he just had a knack. Another thing that showed, he played with an innate brute power, whether he was 315 [pounds] or 285 [pounds], he showed power in his play and that's what he's done. The last three weeks he's been playing more and more, without a doubt he's shown that he's a real football player. He's definitely worthy of where he was picked. His value is the versatility. He can collapse the pocket from the edge, I think he's a mismatch for guards, he's strong enough to play inside there. He's a really good football player, I'm glad we have him.