After a minicamp that saw Matt Flynn and Terrelle Pryor get ripped so badly by the media on Day One that it nearly threatened the entire mood of the camp, Dennis Allen closed his first Raiders minicamp liking how his team practiced and the atmosphere around the Silver and Black as they close up the three day camp in an interview that was filled with optimism and positives to close out minicamp.
“First of all, I’ll just say this was a good camp. I thought OTAs, I thought we improved, I thought we got better. I like this football team. I like their mentality, I like where we’re at, I like the way they’re working.” said Allen to open up his final press conference. “Obviously we’re going to give them some time off before we go to training camp, but I think we’re all anxious to get there, get the pads on and really see what we’ve got.”
The main takeaway from the final Q & A session of training camp, was the exuberance in which Allen talked about how the Raiders excited him with their effort over the past three days. “I’ve been pleased with the work that these guys have put in, and obviously we’re not the finished product. We’ve still got a lot of improvement to do, but I wouldn’t say that’s any different than any of the other 31 teams. But I like their mentality, and I like the way that they work” said an excited Allen post practice this afternoon.
Allen’s excitement could just be the bluster of a new coach trying to distract from a camp opening that was nearly a disaster at the beginning, but you can’t help to join him in being optimistic hearing him gush over his group at the close of camp. If Allen is legitimately this excited, it is something that bodes well for the Raiders who are going through the process of creating a new identity after some growing pains in their rebuilding process have them seeing major roster turnover in 2013.
Of the now famous Day One Quarterback Meltdown, Allen made sure the media knew that Pryor and Flynn’s play over the final two days of camp was much, much better. Allen attributed getting that first day and initial camp reps out of the way as the reason Pryor and Flynn started slow, but bounced back in the final two days of practice sessions.
“I think it’s continue to get reps. Continue to get the work. These guys have done a nice job. We knew going into this from the very beginning, not only from the quarterback position because that seems to be the focus of everybody, but with our football team. Don’t worry about where you’re at right now. Just keep grinding, keep working and if you keep doing that you’re gonna get better. And that’s what these guys have done” said Allen on the key for the Raiders to keep on improving.
On Greg Olsen’s influence as offensive coordinator, Allen says that Olsen’s visions and system in the run game is what has him the most excited. “I think he brings an element of creativity. I like some of the things that they’re doing with him and Tony Sparano in the run game. I like what we’re doing from that standpoint. And he brings some enthusiasm and an air of confidence to the team” said Allen.
Allen was asked about his thoughts on free agent signing Rashad Jennings, who was signed by Reggie McKenzie to give Darren McFadden some rest and curb his workload in the run game this season. Jennings size and running style was pointed out as the most impressive feature of the new Raiders tailback, but Allen cautioned that you can’t really evaluate how a running back plays until the pads are put on during training camp. “I think up to this point he’s done a nice job for us. said Allen on Jennings performance at camp. “He moves well, he’s a big back. I think the telltale will be when we get into the pads does he run like a big back in the pads. We’ll find that out when we get to training camp.”
The former safety coach and defensive coordinator Allen naturally mentioned that the Raiders new look secondary, backed by the return of Charles Woodson, will be one of the backbones of this team and was something Allen really focused on during camp. “You always go back home to mama. That’s a spot that I have a great passion for. I feel like in the secondary that that’s the most critical spot to make sure you’re on it. I have great confidence in the coaches we have back there. I have great confidence in those players that we brought in here but that’s a place that yeah I’ve spent a little bit more time” said Allen who has mentioned he plans to make the secondary the strong point of the defense, locking down coverage to make things easier for the pass rush who will have more time to blitz and pressure the quarterback with the routes locked down by a ball hawking secondary.
On Woodson, the man brought back to Oakland to be the anchor of that secondary Allen hopes to be a strength in 2o13, Allen mentioned that Woodson may have more football left in him than some give him credit for, and that locking down a player who is a Super Bowl champion is something that changes the atmosphere around the team instantly. “He brings an air confidence to the whole group, not just the secondary but really the team in general said Allen on Woodson’s impact as a veteran and a leader. Anytime you can have a player of that caliber that still has a lot of football left in him and bring that into your team and your organization it fills your team with a lot more confidence. That’s one of the big things that he brings.”
Minicamp is now officially over and the Raiders will be breaking until training camps start. Hearing an optimistic tone was a guarantee and what was needed to be said, but even if it was going to be said whether it was genuine or not, it is nice to hear a tone of positivity out of camp during the final two days. Training camp is nearly here, and the Raiders new head coach couldn’t be more excited.
Video of the Allen Press Conference Courtesy of Raiders Central Youtube Channel