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News

Coach Allen Talks OTAs

Posted May 27, 2014

Head Coach Dennis Allen spoke with the media following the first practice of Organized Team Activities.

Opening Statement: “Welcome back. We’re out here practicing a little football now. This is why we do what we do. I thought the first day out was a good practice for the first day. Obviously, there are some things we have to get cleaned up and things that we have to get corrected. That’s why we practice. I thought, overall, I was pleased with the first day. We’re looking forward to keep going with these guys.”

Q: What does it mean to have everybody but Kevin Burnett out there, all except one player?

Coach Allen: “I think it’s great to have the participation that we have, especially since it’s on a voluntary basis. I think it shows that our team is committed to trying to get better, and committed to trying to do the things that it takes to win and win championships in this league.”

Q: Is Kevin Burnett healthy?

Coach Allen: “Yeah, he’s healthy. He’s just not here.”

Q: Matt Schaub looks really comfortable out there …

Coach Allen: “I thought he practiced well today. I thought he did all the things that we thought he would be able to do. I thought he was able to come out and execute. He made some mistakes in today’s practice, but that’s to be expected. We continue to work and try to correct those mistakes and move on from them. But, I was pleased with the way he looked out here today.”

Q: What impresses you the most about him?

Coach Allen: “I think he understands the game. I think he’s incredibly smart. He knows what it takes to win in this league. He knows how you have to prepare, how you have to take care of your body, how you have to meet, how you have to practice. So, I think he is a true pro in every sense of the word.”

Q: Is it a different feeling than it was a year ago, having a guy like him that has these leadership qualities, these intangibles?

Coach Allen: “I don’t think there is any doubt that the quarterback is probably the most important position on the football team. When you have a room like we have in the quarterback room, it gives you a lot of confidence as a football coach that you have a chance to go out and execute the offense the way it is supposed to be run and you have the chance to have success.”

Q: What signs of leadership have you seen from him?

Coach Allen: “You hear him all the time. He is coaching up some of the younger guys and trying to get everybody on the same page. That’s what you look for, really in all your veteran players. We’re here for one reason and one reason only and that’s to win games. For us to be able to do that, everybody has to be on the same page. It’s nice when your quarterback is on the same page and understands what you have to get done.”

Q: Last year at this time, DJ Hayden had just undergone a procedure to remove scar tissue and was pretty much lost until training camp. Where is he now as opposed to last year?

Coach Allen: “I think really he’s light years ahead of where he was at this point last year, not just from a physical standpoint, but really from a mental standpoint too. I think he realizes now that everything is going to be fine. He is going to be OK, and he can really focus in on getting better as a football player. I like what I’ve seen out of DJ so far. He still has a lot of things he has to learn. He is still kind of a quasi-rookie out there, but I am looking forward to his development and I think there are some good things in store for him.”

Q: In a sense, is that almost like getting a bonus draft pick?

Coach Allen: “Yeah, he’s not necessarily starting on ground zero like most of these rookies are when they come in, so he has a little bit of a head start, but yet he still has a lot of room to grow. There was a reason why we took him where took him last year. We feel great about the player, and we’re excited to see how he can develop this year.”

Q: Sio Moore played SAM linebacker last year. Can you see him playing WILL now that you have Khalil Mack?

Coach Allen: “I’ll start off by saying this: We’re going to take a look at a lot of different people in a lot of different areas because we have a lot of new players on this football team. As we get a better feel for these guys and get an opportunity to work with them, we’ll settle in more on positions as we move along. But I think initially, we are going to take a look at a lot of people in a lot of different areas.”

Q: Is there an advantage now that maybe you didn’t have last year or the year before due to the continuity?

Coach Allen: “I think we’re still a little bit behind the eight ball a little bit because we do have so many new players and a lot of new guys trying to understand what our culture is going to be, how we’re going to go about doing the things, how we’re going to go about practicing. So, we’ve still got some catching up to do as far as that is concerned. But, we do have a core of players that understand what we’re trying to get accomplished. From that standpoint, it’s been a positive.”

Q: What areas of DJ’s added strength that he was able to put on this offseason have helped him on the field?

Coach Allen: “When you look at how the league has gone with these big, physical receivers, it’s hard to play the position without having that function of strength, both in your upper body and lower body. He’s got the athletic skill to play the position, but that was one of the things that we talked about in the offseason that he needed to do to get stronger. He’s done a great job this offseason of putting his body in a position to have success. He’s got to continue to do that throughout the rest of the offseason and all the way up through training camp.”

Q: David Ausberry got hurt at the beginning of last year, but he was out there making a lot of plays at a position that seems wide open. What have you seen from him?

Coach Allen: “It’s been good to have David back out here. He was a guy that we had some high hopes for last year and unfortunately he got hurt in that second preseason game. He’s a guy that, again, he’s got talent and he’s got ability, especially as a receiving threat. He’s a nice piece to the puzzle and hopefully he’ll continue to develop and hopefully he’ll stay healthy and we’ll be able to use him this year.”

Q: Is he number one on the depth chart?

Coach Allen: “To be honest, we really don’t have number ones, number twos, number threes on the depth chart. We’re out here practicing football. All that stuff, by the time we hit the first game will take care of itself.”

Q: Is LaMarr Woodley reinventing himself as an end or is he doing the same thing he’s always done and the 4-3, 3-4 thing really isn’t applicable much?

Coach Allen: “The biggest difference for him is that on the majority of the downs, he’ll have his hand in the ground as opposed to standing up. All the things that we’re going to ask him to do, he’s done at some point in his career. I think it’s a great opportunity for him and I know he’s excited about it. We’re certainly excited about it. We’re looking forward to seeing what he can do as a 4-3 defensive end.”

Q: Why isn’t Kevin [Burnett] here?

Coach Allen: “Because it’s voluntary.”

Q: With Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden in the backfield, you’ve got to be excited about the possibilities there.

Coach Allen: “Both of those guys have proven that they can do it in this league. That’s exciting to have veteran players back there that have been through it and understand what it takes. I think they’re going to have a healthy competition back there. Really, with all positions, the more competition that you can have at each position, the more sound your football team is going to be and the stronger your football team is going to be. We’ve seen it and everybody has seen it. Injuries happen in this league and the more depth that you can acquire on your football team, the more you’re going to be able to compete when you get down to the latter part of the season. Guys are fresher. Guys are more healthy. You need all 53 guys to win in this league.”

Q: Do they give you a 1-2 punch, too, because of their completely different styles?

Coach Allen: “That was one of the things we looked at is trying to add pieces that complement each other. I don’t think there’s anybody out there that has 100 percent the total package. I think everybody has their strengths and everybody has their weaknesses. You try to accumulate talent on your football team where one player’s strengths can make up for another player’s weaknesses. We feel good about where we are at in the running back room.”

Q: Was there anything that you absolutely needed to see as they came out to practice today?

Coach Allen: “What I wanted to see … Again, this is my first time out here with this football team in a practice environment. Even though we brought in a lot of veteran players from other organizations, until you actually get out there on the football field and see them up close and personal, you don’t know exactly what you have. I think the biggest thing for me was just being able to get out here and watch practice. To see how they go about their job and get first-hand what really are their strengths and what are some things that we need to work on.”

Q: How would you describe the conditioning level and overall health of the team?

Coach Allen: “I thought overall it was good. You always get a little nervous with the four-day weekend, Memorial Day weekend, so you don’t know what you’re going to get when you come back on Tuesday. I thought overall I was pleased.”

Q: Did you have Tyvon Branch working at cornerback a little bit?

Coach Allen: “No. Do you have some ideas for me? I like versatility.”

Q: Can you talk about your impressions of Greg Little?

Coach Allen: “So far I’ve been pleased. Greg is a guy that’s got a lot of talent. He’s a big, physical receiver. He can run. There’s a lot of upside to Greg. I think a lot of times you have guys that the initial situation that they’re in, they don’t flourish in that situation. they need a fresh start and a new start. I think we provide that opportunity for him. I think it’s a good marriage because we’re looking for some receivers that can step up and make plays and I think it’ll be a good opportunity for him.”

Q: Are you troubled by the fact that Kevin is not here?

Coach Allen: “No, I’ve had communication with Kevin the whole time. This is a voluntary camp. Players can make their own decisions. They’ve got families and things in their personal lives that they have to make sure they take care of. I’m not concerned about that at all.”

Q: Your most prominent draft pick is a guy that plays linebacker. Has there been any communication with Kevin that makes you think he’s wanting to move elsewhere?

Coach Allen: “No. To be honest with you, my focus is on the guy’s that are here and we’re working to try to do everything we can to get better as a football team. The guys that are here, we’re going to do everything we can to make them a better player.”

Q: I know you said there are no ones, twos or threes at this point but is Schaub your starter?

Coach Allen: “Everything is a competition, but I haven’t made any bones about the fact that we brought Matt Schaub in here to be a starter. He’s been a top-10 quarterback in this league. I think there are a lot of teams out there that would like to have a top-10 quarterback in this league and I think we have one. That’s the way we’re going right now.”

Q: Are you more comfortable at quarterbacks one through three than you were last year?

Coach Allen: “Yeah, I think we have a heck of a quarterback room. And really, I think we’ve got four quarterbacks that can help this football team.”

Q: Are you considering using Jones-Drew to return punts this year?

Coach Allen: “We’re considering anything. That’s what this time of year is for. Yeah, we’re going to look at a lot of different things.”