The Oakland Raiders took to the practice field Monday morning, kicking off their final week of Organized Team Activities (OTAs). The team will hold four OTA practices at their Alameda facility – Monday through Thursday – before heading into a Mandatory Mini-Camp June 17-19.
“Week Three OTAs, the guys just continue to work hard,” said Head Coach Dennis Allen. “We’ve still got a lot of things that we’ve got to get cleaned up, a lot of things that we’ve got to get better at. But, the guys are working at it and we’re trying to get better. I think it’s all about really a mindset, and a mindset that every day we come out here we’re competing against the other 31 teams in the National Football League.”
Coach Allen has seen his team progress since the offseason program began. “I think we’ve made progress in a lot of different areas,” he said. “One, just coming together as a team. We’ve got significant turnover on this football team from where we were last year, so I think that’s been the most significant progress. But there’s still a lot of learning that has to be done. We’re probably about halfway through as far as the installation is concerned, of what all we’re going to put in and kind of the core of what we’re going to be as a football team. I’ve seen a lot of areas where we’ve improved, but there’s still a lot of areas that we’ve got to continue to work on, and that’s what this time of year is for.”
The players on both offense and defense continue to exude the confidence and belief necessary to be successful. “I think we’re going to be a talented defense, obviously, with the guys that we have,” said SS Tyvon Branch. “Whatever he [Tarver] wants me to do, I’m going to do it. Those are the kind of guys that we have here now, guys just want to do whatever it takes to win. I think that’s going to help us a lot on our defense.”
Offensive tackle Donald Penn, who grew up watching the Raiders dominate on the line of scrimmage, expects the 2014 Raiders to do the same. “We’re going to be a physical offensive line. We’re going to play like the old Raiders in between the whistle,” said Penn. “Smart; we’re not going to get stupid penalties or stuff like that, but we’re not going to take anything. We’re not going to take any stuff. We’re going to run the ball, and we’re going to run the ball and run the ball, until they stop us from running the ball. It’s going to be hard. We’re going to be a physical offensive line. We’re going to play tough. We’re not going to take any stuff. We’re going to go out in the games and we’re going to dictate the tempo.”
The offseason program is a time for the players to get to know one another, for the coaches to get to know the players, and for the team to take a giant step towards the start of the 2014. “I’m loving it,” said Penn. “I feel like this group here is just a bunch of guys that want to work and want to turn this thing around.”
The Raiders will hold three more voluntary OTA sessions this week before transitioning to one last week of mandatory work. Stay up to date on all of the offseason activity on Raiders.com, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.