With the 2014 offseason coming closer to an end as the Oakland Raiders 2014 Minicamp wrapped up on Thursday, Raiders head coach gave his final words on the long process that the Raiders have went through since their disappointing 2013 season. Adding significant talent with both veteran acquisitions and exciting draft picks, Allen gave a positive final press conference where the head coach praised the team’s offseason as well as their OTA/Minicamp practices. Leading up to 2014 Training camp, Allen feels that the future is bright in Oakland.
Following is a transcript of Allen’s press conference from Raiders.com
Q: These three practices this week seem to have had a pretty intense pace. Are you happy to get out of them relatively healthy?
Coach Allen: “Yeah, we got a few bumps and bruises type of deal, but nothing that I expect, like I said before,Lucas Nix is the only guy that I anticipate would be a kind of training camp decision whether he’s ready to go or not. But other than that, I expect to have everybody else back. I think today’s practice, I’ve been a part of a lot of these practices the last day of the offseason where people kind of lose focus and they’re not as sharp as they need to be. I think we had an outstanding practice today.”
Q: Other teams have canceled their last day of practice in the past. Was that ever a possibility or was there too much work to do?
Coach Allen: “I think every situation is different. We took time out earlier in the offseason program, we did a little team activity during one of the OTA days. But I thought this was an important practice for us to be able to get in and I thought we got a lot accomplished today. I was proud of the way the guys came out and kept their focus today.”
Q: Do you tailor your message to them about what they should do or not do over the next month based on last year?
Coach Allen: “Well, yeah, because every year is a new year and every team is a new team. You always try to tailor your message towards what your team is and what type of football team you have. We have a lot of veteran players here, so I expect that those guys are going to do the things that they need to do to be ready for camp.”
Q: Do you feel that this is a better team?
Coach Allen: “I don’t think there’s any question you can feel that. You guys have been around here too, so I think you’ve seen these practices around here for a while. I think we’ve had an outstanding offseason and I think our team from the day that we started the offseason program to where we’re at now, we’ve improved tremendously, but we’ve still got to go out there and do it when we get to training camp and do it when we get to the regular season.”
Q: I saw some balls completed in the 11-on-11, but also a lot of those were being contested, was that a good thing in your mind?
Coach Allen: “It’s a great thing. You know, when you come out here you never want to see anything just totally one-sided, because that’s not the sign of a good football team. A good football team, you want to see guys go out and compete and see the offense win some, see the defense win some, and I think we saw that not only today, but throughout the offseason.”
Q: Do you expect Kevin Burnett to be at training camp and competing for a job?
Coach Allen: “Yeah, I do. Absolutely.”
Q: How excited are you to see Khalil Mack in pads?
Coach Allen: “I’m excited to see all these guys in pads. There’s a lot of guys on our team that I haven’t seen go through a padded practice, and I think the guys are excited about it. That’s real football. You put the pads on and you start really competing and we’ll find out a lot more about what we have when we start doing that.”
Q: You expected a lot of him and when you drafted here you compared him to Von Miller. Can you put too much expectation on him or is that not a concern?
Coach Allen: “I’m not really concerned with that. I know we’ve thrown out some comparisons, I’ve thrown out some comparisons, but really I’m focused on Khalil Mack being the best football player that he can be. I think he’s an outstanding talent. I think he’s got a huge upside. If he continues to work the way that he has, I think he’ll fulfill those goals and the expectations that we have of him.”
Q: Is the receiver position the one you’d like to see more out of or develop a little more?
Coach Allen: “I think we have a lot of receivers that have a lot of talent but we are fairly young at that position. It is a position that you want to see improvement from, and I think these guys are out here working and I think they’re going to get better. I saw a lot of improvement from Day One to now. If they’ll continue to do that throughout training camp, we’ll have a good solid group of receivers.”
Q: We saw your Mychal Rivera make a pretty nice play there. Where is he right now and is he moving into that area now where he can be a featured receiver?
Coach Allen: “I think he’s got a chance to be a very good player for us. I’m not going to put him that elite classification yet, but he’s certainly a weapon that we can use, as well as some other guys that we have. David Ausberry is a guy that we didn’t have all last year and he’s a guy that I think can be a real receiving threat for us.”
Q: Jason Tarver mentioned yesterday that Khalil Mack was on the board and you started drawing things up and different ways you could use him. How much does your defense change when you add a guy like that?
Coach Allen: “You’re looking for guys that have versatility and guys that can really affect the game and he’s got that ability. Our job as coaches is to figure out what our guys can do well and put them in those positions where they can go out and execute and make plays. So, yeah, every year you look at who you have on your team and you try to design your schemes to put them in position to make plays.”
Q: Derek Carr taking most of the second team reps right now …
Coach Allen: “Yeah, he’s taking most of the second team reps. Like ‘Olie’ [Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson] said yesterday, we’re trying to expedite his progression and I like a lot of the things that I’ve seen out of Derek. He’s still got a long way to go, but I like the direction that he’s headed.”
Q: Would you think that you would start with Carr at No.2?
Coach Allen: “Yeah, I would think that we would start that way.”
Q: You signed Taiwan Jones in the offseason because you consider him one of the best cover guys in the league in terms of covering kicks. Is he close to the point where you could put him on the field as a cornerback?
Coach Allen: “Well, he’s gotten better. When you watch him – he made a nice interception out here today – I’ve seen improvement and again, the position’s a little bit foreign to him because it’s been a while since he’s played the position, and I think the competition that we have, really in all the rooms, but in the defensive back room, I think that’s kind of brought the best out in him.”
Q: We heard good things about TJ Carrie at rookie camp. Has he carried that through the last three weeks? How has he done so far?
Coach Allen: “He absolutely has carried it through. I’ve been very impressed with him and his ability to understand what we’re trying to do within the scheme of the defense. What you look for in guys like that is you look for a guy that’s going to make a play, that kind of catches your attention and really just about every day there’s been something that he’s done that you say, ‘Damn, that was a pretty good play.’ I like where he’s at in his development and in the process here.”
Q: You talk about DJ Hayden’s improvement, but he has missed a lot of time. Is he behind on all this as you go into training camp?
Coach Allen: “Yeah, I mean I don’t think there’s any way you can sugarcoat that. I mean, he’s behind. Like I said the other day though, it’s nothing that he can’t overcome, but he needs to be healthy and he needs to be out here and he needs to work. We’ll see where he’s at when we go into training camp. We’re going to go out and compete and we’re going to find the best 11 guys that we can put out there on defense, and the guys that perform the best in training camp and in the preseason games, those are the guys that are going to get to play.”
Q: Why did Austin Howard not practice today?
Coach Allen: “He’s got a finger – we sent him over to get an X-ray on his finger. Again, it’s nothing that’s going to be a big deal for him, but more of a precautionary measure than anything else.”
Q: When Howard is out like that, you have to shuffle some things around on the offensive line. Is that in some way an opportunity to preview what you can do before training camp?
Coach Allen: “Listen, it’s a next-man-up philosophy in all of the National Football League, and anytime there’s injuries, you don’t like that, but it creates an opportunity for somebody else. With him being out today, we moved Gabe Jackson into the left side, Khalif Barnes over to the right. It’s something that you have to do when you go through the season. You’ve got to do a little bit of mixing and matching. Obviously, we want to keep the same five guys in there and keep that continuity, but it allowed for some extra work for Gabe so that was good for him.”
Q: Are you going on vacation?
Coach Allen: “I’m going to spend a couple of weeks down in Florida. It’ll be a good time, just me and the family. I’ll hang out a little bit, then get back here and get ready to go.”
Q: You said from the start that there’s really no wiggle room for the rookies as far as negotiating for bigger contracts, but you’ve got all of your guys signed and basically 99 percent attendance at this camp. What does that say about what the statement is going forward?
Coach Allen: “I like the direction we’re headed as a football team. I think we’ve got a group of guys that are committed to winning. I think they’re committed to this organization, and I think we have a lot of guys who have a lot to prove. That’s an exciting thing for a football coach. That’s an exciting thing for these football players. So I like our direction, I like our commitment, and we’ve just got to keep working.”
Quotes courtesy of Raiders.com