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News

Coach Allen Excited to be Back on the Field

Posted May 16, 2014

Oakland Raiders Head Coach Dennis Allen spoke to the media after the conclusion of the team's first 2014 Rookie Mini-Camp practice.

Opening Statement: “It feels great to get back out here and get an opportunity to practice football. It’s the first day out here for the rookies. Obviously you guys saw practice, there were a lot of mistakes that were made. Guys are not in as good of condition as we want them to be in. But, that’s all stuff to be expected from the first day. I thought for the first day of practice, I was impressed with the way the guys came out here and worked. We’ve still got a couple more days to work and we’re looking forward to it. We’re excited about the acquisitions that we’ve made in the offseason and looking forward to getting out here and really start practicing with the veterans and start building our team for the 2014 season.”

Q: How much do you gauge between what you want to teach them scheme-wise and basic fundamentals?

Coach Allen: “Well, a lot of it is going to be basic technique and fundamentals. We’ve really got a very limited package of what we’re doing offensively, defensively, as well as in the kicking game during this camp. A lot of it is to get them acclimated to our systems and what we want to do. Get them acclimated to the techniques and fundamentals that we’re going to ask them to execute on game days. It’s really a scaled back version of what we’re going to do. They’ll have an opportunity next week to get a lot more in-depth into what we’re doing to do schematically on both sides of the ball when we get them back in with the veterans next week. Then, we start the OTAs after that.”

Q: Is this similar to how you handled the rookie camp last year?

Coach Allen: “It’s pretty similar. There’s not a lot different in what we’re doing in this rookie camp as opposed to last year. It’s a lot to them because in college they’re not used to doing a whole lot of different things. It is a shock to their system, but it’s very scaled back to what we’re going to do in the season.”

Q: Can you talk about having Derek Carr drop to the second round and getting him in here?

Coach Allen: “First of all, I’ll say this: Derek Carr was a guy we thought very highly of going into the draft. As you guys all know, we did a lot of work on the quarterbacks this year. He was a guy that we identified early that we really felt good about. We liked him. We thought he was a first-round talent as a quarterback. We felt fortunate, really in a lot of different areas, not just Derek Carr but in a lot of areas, that guys were able to fall to us as the position that we were in the draft. You never know exactly how that’s going to work out, but it worked out in our favor there and we’re extremely happy that we were able to get Derek. He’s very bright. He’s got a great skill set as a quarterback. We’re looking forward to working with him.”

Q: How’s his transition going from spread and shotgun?

Coach Allen: “He played the first part of his career at Fresno with a pro-style offense. He took snaps under center, so it’s kind of like riding a bicycle. You have to get back on it and get the feel for it. I’ve got no hesitation on his ability to execute the offense from under center.”

Q: What have you seen from Khalil Mack now that he is here in person?

Coach Allen: “I think that’s the interesting thing. It’s hard to really get a great feel for the player when you just see him on tape, but when you get up close and personal and see him live you get a better feel for who he is. He’s exactly what we thought he was going to be. He’s got a lot of work ahead of him. He’s got a lot of getting better to do. But, he’s got a tremendous skill set and I would expect a pretty quick assimilation into the National Football League.”

Q: What does it say about him that he was willing to sign his contract and get all of that done before this rookie minicamp practice?

Coach Allen: “A couple of things. Number one, the way that the new CBA is with the rookie wage scale, there’s not a ton of negotiation that goes on. I think he was of the mindset, I think his family was of the mindset, they wanted to get all of that out of the way and get that settled to concentrate on football. He is certainly a football-first guy. Not only is he a tremendous athlete, but he’s the type of guy that we’re looking for from a personal-character standpoint and from a football-character standpoint.”

Q: Do you envision Derek competing for the starting job?

Coach Allen: “We’re going to let things play out. Obviously we brought Matt Schaub in and Matt Schaub is our starting quarterback. We feel very good about that. I’ve said this before, he’s been a top 10 quarterback in this league and he’s performed at a high level. We feel very good about that. We like Derek Carr and we’re going to let him go out and compete and see how things work out. You can’t have enough good quarterbacks in this league. You never know when injuries are going to occur and you’ve got to be prepared for that. When you have an opportunity with a guy like Derek Carr that you feel good about, then you go out and get him.”

Q: Did you look out at any of the draft picks today and think ‘That’s why we got him’?

Coach Allen: “I was pleased with all of the draft picks that we were able to pick up over the weekend. I thought they did a nice job today. I thought Derek threw the ball well. I saw some things with Khalil with his athleticism and his quickness, as well as his power. Gabe Jackson did a nice job inside. We’ll go back; we’ll look at the tape and evaluate it. We’re not making any quick decisions here. This is an evaluation process but we feel good about the guys that we acquired and we feel like they’re going to be able to come in and help us this year.”

Q: George Atkinson III is a Raider legacy, but that’s obviously not the only reason you brought him in. What did you see from him that you liked?

Coach Allen: “I think he’s a talented athlete and he’s got a lot of speed. He has the ability to help us on special teams also. So, I think anytime a chance to get a legacy, somebody who has the Raider blood lines … Because those guys understand what it means to be a Raider. We were pleased that we were able to bring him in here.”

Q: Mike Davis and Noel Grigsby had big numbers in college. What were your impressions before today and today also?

Coach Allen: “Grigsby came in for our local pro day a couple of weeks ago before the draft. He was a guy that we felt good about. I think he does some really good things inside in the slot. Mike Davis is a guy that is one of the leading receivers in the University of Texas’ history. I think both of those guys have a skillset that lend the opportunity for them to come in and help us out.”

Q: Did you guys feel that the wide receiver spot is a position that you guys felt had as much room for additions as any other spot?

Coach Allen: “We’re going to go through the process just like we always have. Acquiring talent is a never-ending process, so we’re going to continue to look to see where there are areas that we can improve this football team and who are the guys who we can potentially bring in here to help us out. Whatever that position may be, we’re going to look to try to get this team better.”

Q: There were a lot of play calls to the tight end, basic completions. Was that just basic play-calling, check downs and things like that?

Coach Allen: “Again, there was a lot of Cover Two today, so we’re rolled up on the outside. That opens up the middle of the field a little bit more. That’s what you want the quarterback to do. You want the quarterback to take advantage of what the defense gives them. I thought both quarterbacks actually did a nice job of doing that today.”

Q: With Antonio Smith having surgery, do you think he is going to miss a significant portion of the offseason program?

Coach Allen: “I think we’ll have to see how he responds. He’s been doing really well. We’re going to kind of play that day-by-day, kind of play it by ear. I am hopeful that we’ll be able to have him out here for at least some of the OTAs of the mini-camp.”

Q: It’s nothing that you’re terribly concerned about?

Coach Allen: “No.”

Q: Seeing Keith McGill in person, it’s even more impressive with his size. What are your thoughts on him?

Coach Allen: “With the way that the National Football League is going with these big, 6-foot-4 receivers that can really run down the field, you have to have the guys that can match up with those type of guys. Keith is one of those guys that he has size, he has length, he has speed. His is a little raw. There are some things that we have to work with him from a fundamental and a technique standpoint. But, he has the skillset that will allow him, if he continues to work and do the things that we ask him to do, to be a good player. He is a nice piece of clay to try to mold.”

Q: How much rust does a guy like Shelby Harris have after not playing last year?

Coach Allen: “All these guys have rust. It’s been awhile since all of them have played football. There is some rust there, but I was impressed some of the things that I saw out of him today. He’s got a little length to him. He has some athleticism to him, a little bit of burst and explosion. So again, I think that this is another guy … And that’s really what you try to identify. When you get late in the draft, you are trying to find guys that have a skillset that you think you can develop. I think he has that.”

Q: You addressed it in free agency and in the draft. How have you improved in the trenches on both sides of the ball?

Coach Allen: “We’ve gotten bigger and more physical on both sides of the ball. That was something that we wanted to do this offseason. That was part of our plan. That was part of our mission of what we wanted to accomplish. I felt like Reggie [McKenzie] and his staff did an outstanding job of being able to acquire those type of players. We’ve got to continue to be able to run the ball effectively as an offense. We have to be able to stop the run defensively. I thought the other thing that we were able to do up front, defensively specifically, is we were able to get some guys that have had the ability or have the ability to rush the passer. So, we’re excited about what we’ve been able to do up front on both sides of the ball.”

Q: Along those lines, you brought in some guys with some championship experience. How are they going to affect some of the young guys that you brought in?

Coach Allen: “I think that was part of it. I’ve said this before, we brought these players in primarily because they are good football players. Secondarily, they have been great leaders on the teams that they came from. We expect them to come in and provide that same type of leadership in our locker room. A lot of the guys that we brought in do have that championship pedigree. They understand what it takes to win a championship. They understand what it takes to have success in this league. They’ll have a great influence, not only on the young players in the locker room, but some of the other players that have been here.”

Q: Why did you think it was important to reach out directly to the season ticket holders?

Coach Allen: “I just thought it was an opportunity to let them feel the excitement that I have for our football team, what we’ve been able to do in the offseason. I think we’ve changed our team. I am excited about it. I am looking forward to getting out here and working with them and then getting into training camp. I’m excited about this season coming up.”

Q: Is Derek Carr essentially fighting for the number two job with Matt McGloin?

Coach Allen: “Derek’s job is to come in here and work every day to try to get better. He’s a competitor. He is going to continue to compete. That’s really what we want him to do. I am setting any barriers. I am not setting any standards necessarily. I want him to come in here and try to get better every day. If he does that, everything else takes care of itself.”