With all of the Oakland Raiders present at Monday’s OTA session head coach Dennis Allen was again upbeat during his media availability as the new look Raiders opened the doors for the second time after keeping the majority of their sessions closed to outside eyes last week.
Allen took time to address the injuries of DJ Hayden, Antonio Smith, Kevin Burnett and Latavius Murray who all didn’t participate on Monday despite being present as well as to take questions about the continued forming of the team as the early steps towards training camp are being made.
Topics Allen answered included:
- Matt Schaub (Naturally)
- Sio Moore entering his sophomore season.
- Menelik Watson coming back from an injury plagued rookie year.
- Tyvon Branch’s return bolstering the team’s secondary.
- Donald Penn coming to the team from Tampa Bay.
Following is the official transcript of Allen’s media availability courtesy of the Raiders official website:
Opening Statement: “Week Two out here. Today we worked red zone. I thought we had some good work today. Obviously, there are still a lot of things we’ve got to continue to work on, a lot of things we’ve got to get better at. I liked the way that our guys have gone about trying to do their job. I like the focus and the intensity with which we’re trying to get our work done. I’ve been pleased. We’ve still got a long way to go, but we’re making a lot of progress.”
Q: Did DJ get hurt last week?
“He rolled his ankle last week.”
Q: Is it serious?
“No, I don’t expect it to be anything serious.”
Q: Is Kevin Burnett hobbled by something?
“Kevin’s back. He’s got an ankle issue that he’s working through. It was good to have him back out here today. He went through a little bit of work with the trainers on the side. Hopefully he’ll be back out practicing sooner rather than later.”
Q: This was his first day back?
Q: How do the rookies look after being out here a week on the field?
“They’re making progress. Every day is a new day. Today was the first opportunity that they had to work on the red zone. Last week, we did some third-down stuff. Every day they come out here is a new experience for them. The thing that we try to emphasize with those guys is that we understand there are going to be mistakes that are going to be made. That’s what this time of year is for. The hope is that every time they come out here, they’re making a new mistake and not the same one. I think, overall, they’re improving. We expect them to continue to improve.”
Q: Is Latavius Murray hurt?
“Really kind of the same as DJ. He tweaked his ankle or his foot the other day in practice. Again, it’s kind of a day-by-day thing. Hopefully we’ll have him back out here sooner rather than later.”
Q: Are you looking to have a good split in the backfield, or are you hoping that someone steps up?
“I think we let the competition dictate what we end up doing. We’re going to put the best players on the field, and the guys that give us the best opportunity to win, whoever that may be. I do know this: I do know throughout the course of a 16-game season, you’re going to need everybody. I think it’s great when you have multiple players that you feel confident that they can come in and do the job. We’ll let the competition dictate who plays and how much they play. It’s a good feeling to know that you’ve got some qualified people in the running back room that can carry the loads for you.”
Q: How much more of the book do you have to teach them at this point?
“We’re into the red zone install today. We’ve still got a lot more to give them, and a lot more situational type work that we have to do. We’re still at the beginning stages, but I’ve been pleased with the retention from where we’ve gone from the offseason, the little bit that we were able to get on the field with them in phase two, and carried that over to phase three and these OTAs.”
Q: Are you further along this year than you were a year ago?
“Yeah, I believe so. I believe so. I think it’s a credit to, not only the new guys that we’ve brought in, but also to the veteran guys that have been here that they’ve been able to recall. I think they understand a little bit more about exactly what we’re trying to get accomplished.”
Q: In Schaub’s history, he throws to tight ends a lot. Are you happy with where you’re at throwing to that position?
“Yeah. First of all, I’ll address this. When you go into the offseason, you have some things that you want to address and some certain needs that you have on your team. You try to address those needs as best you can. I don’t know that you ever get everything that you want. It’s kind of like when you go and sit on Santa Claus’ lap. You ask for a bunch of stuff, and you get about half of it. That’s kind of where we’re at. I feel good about having some young guys at the tight end position and we’re going to need those guys to step up. Somebody in that room has to step up and say that they’re the guy. I think we’ll all know when that time comes.”
Q: Considering Schaub’s history of throwing to tight ends, there seems like there would be a lot of room for somebody to step up.
“There’s no question there’s a lot of room. That’s a position right there where, again, like I said, there are a lot of young players and nobody is 100 percent established in that room. We’re looking for some of those guys to step up. I think they’ve done a nice job throughout this offseason program of trying to get better. We’ll continue to work with them on through training camp and we’ll see where we’re at.”
Q: How often in all your years you’ve been in the NFL have you been able to get every single guy out for this time of year? How do you get that to happen?
“I couldn’t tell you from past experiences how many times. I think the key is, is that this is a group of guys that have a hunger, have a desire. We’re here to win games. I think these guys understand that. I think they’re looking forward to getting started on the season.”
Q: Is there a ‘surprise guy’?
“Every day there is somebody that steps up and does something that you feel good about. Then there are days that somebody is going to step up and not be up to the task. That’s the thing that’s interesting about this process, because it is a process and it’s not a one day thing, is where does that consistency come throughout the OTAs, as you get into training camp, and as you start playing some preseason games. I think we’ve had a lot of good work. I’m excited about where we’re at as a football team. But, make no mistake about it, we’ve still got a lot of work to do. Coaches, players, everybody is working towards that goal.”
Q: In regards to Sio Moore, does he have the skillset to be a good WILL linebacker if you were to go in that direction?
“Yeah. We believe in versatility. When you get into games, the more things guys can do, the better you are going to be able to adjust, change the game plan, make the defense work based on what the offense is doing to you. There will be times where you need more linebackers on the field based on what the offense is doing. Sometimes, you may not need as many. Yes, he has the skillset that position and we’ll continue to work with him throughout the rest of these OTAs and training camp. Again, we’re going to put the best three guys on the field. Whoever those best three guys are, we’re going to put them on the field and we’re going to go play.”
Q: That position, is there more pass coverage involved there?
“Based on what the call is. All of our linebackers are going to have to be able play the run. All of our linebackers are going to have to be able to play the pass. All of our linebackers are going to have to rush the passer. We’ll find ways to get guys that can do those things. We’ll find ways to get them on the field.”
Q: Will you be able to use Charles Woodson in more different ways with Tyvon Branch healthy? Were you limited at all last year not having Tyvon out there?
“I think any time you lose a player of Tyvon’s ability, it does hinder you as far as what you can do. But, we’re excited about having Woodson back. I think he brings a lot to the table. I think after having him for a year, we have a better feel for him, what he can really do well, and how we can put him in position to make plays.”
Q: It seems he spent most the time as the free safety, maybe not doing as many different things as he did in Green Bay …
Coach Allen: “Again, like I said, losing Tyvon, yeah any time you lose a player of that caliber, it hurts you and it handcuffs you a little bit. I think we’ve addressed a lot of our needs on the football team. I think we’ve gotten more depth, where now we can do a few more things.”
Q: What are your impressions so far of Donald Penn?
“I think Donald has done a nice job for us. I always hesitate, especially on those big guys inside, during this time of year because it’s really hard to tell on those guys until you put the pads on and start hitting. But, I’ve been impressed with the way he’s coming about and doing his job. I’ve been impressed with really the speed at which he has picked up the offensive scheme. It’s a nice start, but again, just like everybody else, we still have a long way to go.”
Q: There were some issues with his conditioning back with Tampa Bay. Are there any of those issues now?
Coach Allen: “I haven’t noticed that. I can’t speak on what any of those things were from the past. I can tell you that since he has been here, he has done everything we’ve asked him to do and that’s really about all you can ask from a guy.”
Q: Matt Schaub is known as being a good rhythm passer, a guy that is good in the pocket. There were a handful of plays where he would make a move or two and manage to pull a defender to him and throw it to somebody in the end zone. Is that part of his game underrated?
“I think with all great quarterbacks, they don’t all have to be great athletes, but they have to have a pocket presence and they have to have a feel for bodies in the pocket. They have to be able to slide and maneuver in the pocket. Some of the best ones in this league – Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, guys of that nature that you wouldn’t classify them as great athletes, but they are able to have a good feel for bodies in the pocket. They are able to slide and avoid pressure and be able to get the ball out. I think Matt has some of those same qualities.”
Q: Are you impressed with your receivers so far?
“Yeah, I think we have great competition in the receiving room. I think that’s one of the things, as you build a football team, that’s what you’re trying to get. You’re trying to create competition in all the areas of your football team because that just makes you better. At the end of the day, there are going to be 53 guys on this football team and they’re going to determine who those 53 players are by the way they go out and execute their jobs and practice and in the games.”
Q: Menelik Watson missed a lot of time last year, but do you think that his mastery of the scheme fits being a second-year player or is he a bit behind?
“I would say this: There’s no substitute for experience. From that standpoint, yeah he is behind. But I don’t think that’s something that he can’t overcome. I think he’s in a good place right now. I think he’s in a good place physically. I think he’s in a good place mentally. We’re excited about the prospect of Menelik Watson and hopefully he’ll continue to develop. We’ve got some time, but he’s got to continue to develop and develop at a pretty rapid pace.”
Q: The NFL is going team to team this offseason to address the bullying issue. Is that something you guys have addressed much or do you think the guys that you have added to this team will police that?
“I think that question is twofold. Number one, yes there have been some things that we’ve done to address that. That was one of the first things that we talked about when we got this group together. I think we’ve had a pretty good locker room since I’ve been here. I don’t expect that to change any. But, that is certainly something that we take very seriously. We’ve really limited the rookie hazing as part of kind of our culture and the way that we do things. I don’t really believe in that. We’ll continue to monitor that locker room on a daily basis. That’s a never-ending process. The thing is that you want this work environment, you want people to come in here, you want people to be comfortable in the work environment, but you want to be able to hold people accountable for doing their job.”
Q: Are you guys looking to do any joint practices in training camp this year?
We’re in the process of communicating with the Cowboys. We haven’t finalized those plans, but that’s something that we’re looking in to. We’ll see where that goes.”
Q: That would be at their site?
Coach Allen: “Yeah.”