The official press conference quote sheet from the Oakland Raiders official website from Dennis Allen’s Tuesday media session as the Oakland Raiders head coach prepares for a trip to Dallas to take on the Cowboys on Thanksgiving.
“Injuries – Tyvon Branch, Jason Hunter and Denarius Moore and Menelik Watson didn’t practice today. Menelik was an illness so we sent him home with an illness. Guys that were limited in practice today – Kevin Burnett, Mike Jenkins, Kaluka [Maiava],Darren McFadden, Sio Moore, Daniel Muir and Mychal Rivera. So that’s where we’re at as far as the injury report. We’ve got one more day of practice before we have to get on a plane and head to Dallas, so short week makes you have to cram a lot of things in, in a short period of time. But I thought the guys had good focus out there today and I thought we had some good work, so we’re getting ready to go.”
Q: Was this the closest thing to a normal practice you’ll have this week?
Coach Allen: “Yeah, and really it was a slowed down tempo. I think when you get to this point of the season, this late in the season, it’s more about the mental process more so than the physical process when you have a Thursday game. We have to do everything we can to get them back so they’re fresh and ready to go for Thursday afternoon.”
Q: Is there any way that these guys can adequately heal from a Sunday game to a Thursday?
Coach Allen: “Well it’s obviously tough because normally you don’t even hit the practice field until Wednesday, that’s your first day of practice. And even on Wednesday, guys are still trying to get back. It’s tough but that’s what the rules of the game are and we have to get ready to go.”
Q: Mychal Rivera said last night that he had completely cleared every test; he was ready to go, cleared, ready to go. Can you confirm that and where is Jenkins in this process?
Coach Allen: “Yeah, Mychal Rivera passed all of his concussion protocol tests so he should be good to go for the game. Mike Jenkins really passed this morning. There’s one more little step where they have to visit with him, but he should be cleared for the game also.”
Q: What do you give up in preparations with the short week?
Coach Allen: “Really, you give up the full speed reps. Yesterday was basically a walk-through. Today was a little more up tempo, but still not a grind it out practice, so you give up a lot of reps. Obviously the preparation time, guys have to do a lot on their own to prepare mentally for the game to make sure you’re prepared for all the things you’re going to see both offensively, defensively and in the kicking game.”
Q: Although he hasn’t played all year, you’re going to be able to put Jared Veldheer back out there. Having not played, being fresh when everybody else is on a short week, what is it to have a guy with that talent level and be fresh to put him out there, what can that do for you?
Coach Allen: “The things that you worry about is just the fundamentals and technique of a guy that hadn’t had a lot of reps because if practice wasn’t important than we wouldn’t do it. Obviously he’ll be a little rusty, but we’ll get an opportunity to get him back out there and get him playing and we’ll see how things go. We’ll see how much he plays, when he plays and how much he plays. Last week he had a good week of practice. This week he’s done well so far, so hopefully being fresh will help him.”
Q: Is the plan for [Khalif] Barnes to go inside?
Coach Allen: “We’ll see. I really don’t want to get into specifics of what we’re going to do game plan-wise, but I expect Jared to play some at left tackle, that’s for sure.”
Q: The last couple of weeks Rod Streater has really come on – touchdown last week and five catches for almost 100 yards this week. What’s he been able to do offensively for you?
Coach Allen: “He’s done a good job for us. He’s been very consistent and that’s what we’ve come to expect out of Rod, especially coming in being an undrafted free agent, making his way into the starting lineup. He’s been a consistent player for us, both in the run game and the pass game. I’ve been pleased with what I’ve seen out of him. I continue to expect that he’s going to get better as we go along. It was nice to see last week that he was able to step up, with Denarius Moore going down and not being able to play you need somebody to step up and kind of take over that role, and I thought he did a good job of that last week.”
Q: Do you see him and the other receivers developing a connection with Matt McGloin, kind of like they had with Terrelle Pryor earlier in the season?
Coach Allen: “Yeah, and the more reps they get together, the more they’ll develop that chemistry, so that just comes with time.”
Q: Do you have a snap count in mind for Jared or is it more a feel thing?
Coach Allen: “It’s more of a feel thing. We’ll see how things are going.”
Q: How did Darren look out there and what was he able to do?
Coach Allen: “Again, most of what we’ve seen out of Darren has been with the trainers, going through the rehab process. He had a good workout the other day. Today he looked good. Again, we weren’t full speed in everything we did today, but everything we’ve seen up to this point says that he looks good to be able to go for this weekend.”
Q: You talked about how it’s a production business and [Rashad] Jennings has produced really well with Darren out. How do you handle that when Darren gets back?
Coach Allen: “If Darren’s fully healthy, both of them will play and both of them will get their opportunities. You can’t deny that Rashad Jennings over the last month of the season has led the entire NFL in yards from scrimmage. I think he’s earned the right and deserves the right to continue to get his carries, continue to get his touches and we’ll still do that.”
Q: Did you assign members of your coaching staff to prepare for Dallas last week?
Coach Allen: “We worked last week, yeah. Just like every week, nothing new, we just had to spend more time at the end of the week starting the early preparations for Dallas.”
Q: What you saw from the Giants film, did DeMarcus Ware, after missing those three games, pick up where he left off?
Coach Allen: “He still looked good. Whether he picked up right where he left off or not, I don’t know. He’s still a guy that you have to account for on every single snap because he can go out there and ruin a game for you. We have to make sure we understand where he’s at and do a great job of blocking him.”
Q: They move him around a lot?
Coach Allen: “Yeah, they’ll move him from the right side to the left side, so you don’t know exactly where he’s going to be on every snap. I’ve seen him primarily over on our offensive left side. I’m sure they’ll have a plan and want to move him around and try to get the best match-up that they think is available for him.”
Q: Is he pretty stout against the run also?
Coach Allen: He’s a well-rounded player. He’s good against the run. He’s good against the pass. We’ll have our hands full with him in both areas.”
Q: Can you talk about the dangers of playing a guy like Tony Romo and the things he does well that you really have to watch out for?
Coach Allen: “Tony’s been playing this game for a long time, so he’s a smart player. I think one of the things that he does as well as anybody in the league is he’s able to create. Obviously, he can throw the ball on time with accuracy, but his ability to extend the play and make plays down the field is probably as good as anybody in the league. So we’ll have to do a great job of staying in coverage when he begins to move around and sometimes you have to stay in coverage for a long time. That’s something that we’ve had to work on and emphasize this week.”
Q: What will you do on the other side of the Thursday night game with the extra prep time?
Coach Allen: “The players will get some time off to rest and recover. We’ll kind of get back to a normal week once we get back. I’m not going to change a whole lot. They’ll get Friday, Saturday, Sunday off and get their bodies back, get their minds back, and then we’ll be gritting ready for the stretch run the last four games of the year.”
Q: You talk about being focused mentally and a lot of the guys after the game referenced to winning the Texans game. What do you say to keep them focused and remember a win versus a touchdown in the final seconds of the game?
Coach Allen: “Listen, every week you learn lessons good or bad. The key is that you make whatever corrections you have to get made when you don’t have the success you’re looking for and when you do have success, you have to remember the things you were able to do that allows you to have that success. We don’t spend a whole lot of time dwelling on the past. We’re really looking forward and doing everything we can to prepare for the Dallas game.”
Q: How have you liked your adjustment to the base defense having Stacy [McGee] inside and having Vance [Walker] maybe outside in terms of stopping the run? Has that worked for you liked you’d hoped?
Coach Allen: “Yeah, I think that’s been a good move and we’ll continue to look to see if there’s any other things we can do to help our defense out or help our offense out. I think that’s what you do as the season goes on. You don’t just stay status quo; you try to look for ways that you can improve and I think moving Vance out to end in the base package and having Stacy go inside and play the nose and moving Pat over to 3-technique, I think that’s helped us.”
Q: Do you think the rest has done Pryor’s knee some good? I know it’s not a full speed practice to maybe be able to tell if he can do what he can do with his knee…
Coach Allen: “Listen, anytime you have injuries, rest is always the best medicine, so yeah, that rest has obviously done him some good.”
Q: Do you use iPads to prep the players on film study and if so, does that help prep them on a short week as opposed to 5-10 years ago?
Coach Allen: “We went this year to using iPads as our playbook so we’ve used iPads all week long and obviously that’s something that guys have used in the past to get the video on the iPads and this year we went ahead and put the playbook on there. I think the guys like it. We live in a technical society now and that’s the way guys grow up, using technology. I think it’s been beneficial.”