Jun 10, 2014; Alameda, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders coach Dennis Allen (right) and media relations director Will Kiss at organized team activities at the Raiders practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Oakland Raiders 2014 Training Camp: Dennis Allen Friday quotes

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After two days spent checking in and doing conditioning tests the Oakland Raiders first practice of the 2014 season went underway on Friday afternoon as head coach Dennis Allen ran his players through the paces in the first (unpadded) session of 2014 Training Camp in Napa.

Already losing Usama Young and Keith McGill to injury during conditioning on Thursday, the Raiders first practice went smoothly with no injuries and little errors to report as the team’s first practice was considered a success which had Allen in good spirits during his post practice press conference as he took to the podium.

Allen discussed a variety of topics after practice, mostly answering the burning questions from the media leading into the Raiders Training Camp as well as discussing why the team will be practicing in the afternoon rather than in the mornings in Napa. Allen also talked about the impressive first practices of his tight ends as well as recently acquired waiver wire claim Greg Little from the Cleveland Browns who got a lot of love from the media on hand Friday.

Following is the transcript of Allen’s press conference courtesy of the Raiders official website:

Q: Other teams around the league practice in the mornings. Why did you change the schedule up this year and go to these p.m. practices?

Coach Allen: “I just thought it was more conducive to learning. After going through a couple of times last year and the year before, I did a lot of work with the staff in the offseason, we talked about it a lot, about what was the best way for us to go out and teach, what was the best for these players as far as learning, what was the best for these players as far as the recovery on their body. We just felt like it was the right thing for us to do. We had an opportunity to come out here in the morning. We met last night, did the install, came out here this morning. We were able to walk through the things that we installed offensively, defensively and in the kicking game, and then get a chance to come out here and practice at full speed. Now we’ll go in and we’ll watch the tape and we’ll make those corrections. So just think, from a learning standpoint, as far as teaching, I thought it was a better situation for us.”

Q: How much flexibility will Matt Schaub have in play-calling and in making adjustments, changing based on what he sees and all that?

Allen: “I think he’ll have some flexibility as far as what we do offensively. A lot of it, basically, it depends on him. I think that’s one of the reasons why you want to go out and get a veteran quarterback, because it gives you more flexibility. It gives you the ability to do some more things. He’s seen a lot of different looks from a lot of different defenses. He’s got the ability to make the adjustments and put us in the right place, so I think that’s something that we’re going to look at as we continue to go. I think that’s a good thing and I think it will help us out a lot.”

Q: The timing seemed to be working well between tight ends and all the quarterbacks, but not as much with the wide receivers. Is that just a “first day of camp” thing?

Allen: “Yeah, listen, I think the first day of camp, you’re always going to have some things that you’re going to have to work on, and I think the passing game is something that takes a little bit of time to get back into the rhythm, get that feel for each other, the quarterback get a good feel for the receivers and where they’re going to be on each particular route. I thought we made some good plays down the field in the passing game, so I was not at all disappointed at the way we threw the ball. I thought we made some plays. Obviously, we weren’t 100 percent, but I thought it was a good step forward.”

Q: What do you think of wide receiver Greg Little? He made some plays that were spectacular, but then one play that was right to him that he missed. That’s kind of been the talk about him, that he can make the real big plays, but some of the other ones he doesn’t get.

Allen: “Yeah, you know, I’m not going to let one play deter me on the way that I feel about Greg Little. I think that since he’s been here – number one, he’s an outstanding talent, and since he’s been here he’s done everything that we’ve asked him to do. He’s been a real pro about the way he’s going about doing his job. His job is just like everybody else out here. It’s just going to be to focus in and continue to work to get better on a day-in and day-out basis. I thought today, if you take the sum of the whole practice, I thought he practiced fairly well.”

Q: Knowing a lot of these guys have rust they need to knock off, timing issues they need to get through on the first day, what do you really expect to see from them on the first day?

Allen: “The first thing that you want to see is you want to make sure that there’s a lot of carryover from where we finished off in the offseason. I think when you watch practice today, the ball wasn’t on the ground a lot. We had a couple of times when the ball’s on the ground. I thought for the most part it was pretty clean. Now I want to see: Can we continue to get better, to get that rhythm, to get that cohesiveness with the quarterbacks, the receivers, the tight ends in the passing game? We’ll see if we can continue to get that better.”

Q: We saw Maurice Jones-Drew returning punts today. Is that just a training camp thing or is he in the mix?

Allen: “Well, we’re going to look at it. That position has not been settled yet. He’s a guy that when he came into the league, he’s done that some and he’s done it at a high level. He’s a guy that I want to take a look at down there. We want to go into this training camp with an open mind and really open up to all possibilities of where can guys help us to win football games. That’s one area where he could potentially help us and I want to take a look at it. We’ll see. It may be something that works out for us, and it may not, but we’ll see.”

Q: Is Derek Carr ahead of where you thought he would be at this point?

Allen: “To be honest with you, he’s in a good spot. Whether he’s ahead of where I thought he’d be, he’s on target, he’s behind – I think he’s in a good position as a rookie quarterback coming into this league. I like what I’ve seen out of him so far, but it’s really way too early to make any determination on that. I think he’s got a lot of talent. I think he’s got a lot of ability, and I’m expecting him to get a lot better as we go through training camp and the preseason.”

Q: Is Miles Burris 100 percent now?

Allen: “He’s 100 percent. He’s 100 percent. I think last year was a big disappointment for him because he wasn’t healthy. I think now he’s back, he’s 100 percent, he’s healthy, and I think you could see out here today that he’s moving around well and I think it’s going to be a great competition at the Will linebacker spot to see who can step out and take that role over.”

Q: What are your expectations for Burris this season?

Allen: “Well, my expectation is that he’s going to compete to be a starting linebacker for us. Now that’ll be determined how we go through training camp and the preseason. There’s a lot of time between now and the time we open it up against the New York Jets, but I like where he’s at right now. We’ll let that play out.”

Q: This was the first time you have had a chance to see Antonio Smith on the practice field. What did you see from him? Does he look like he’s completely back?

Allen: “Yeah, he’s healthy. I think, obviously, he’s still working to kind of get himself, get his football legs under him a little bit. I’m excited about the possibilities of what he can bring to this defense. I think he’s a good player. He’s been a good player in this league for a long time, and he’s played on some really good defenses, so he understands what it takes to be a championship-level defense.”

Q: It was over 100 degrees today on the practice field. Did you like that, Mother Nature revving up the heat on the first day of camp?

Allen: “Yeah, I wasn’t sure how hot it was. It’s a little warm today. Listen, that’s what training camp’s all about. If you want to be a mentally tough team and you want to be able to win in the fourth quarter, you’ve got to go through experiences like this when you have to push yourself through the heat. You don’t give into it, and you’re able to still go out and execute your job at a high level. One-hundred-degree heat is no comparison to what it’s going to be like, the pressure of opening day. I thought our guys handled it pretty well. We’ve got to do a great job of staying hydrated so we can stay healthy and keep these guys out on the field.”

Q: Defensive end Justin Tuck’s reputation obviously preceded him, but from what you’ve personally observed since the offseason up until now, is he everything you’ve expected or more than you expected?

Allen: “He’s about right where I expected him to be. Again, when we started this whole offseason program, one of the things we set out to do was bring in veteran leaders that have a championship pedigree. Guys that can hopefully help to teach these young guys, what it takes to be a real pro, what it takes to win a championship. He’s been that force and I expect him to continue to be that force. He’s going to need to be a big force for us on our defense.”

Q: Besides the mentoring and all that you mentioned before, these guys are not just hood ornaments. Tuck looks just explosive and tough.

Allen: “He’s still playing the game. He wouldn’t be here if he couldn’t play the game. We’ve got a lot of guys that are in that situation. I think we have a nice mix of veteran players as well as some young guys that I think have the chance to come on and be really, really good players for us.”

Q: With the way you approached the offseason, with all the signings, is that kind of like pushing the chips all in, in a way, with all those veteran guys?

Allen: “I think you’ve got to push the chips all in every year. Nothing is promised in the National Football League. We’re here for one reason and one reason only, and that’s to win games. We understand that what we’ve done around here in the past has not been good enough. We understand the task ahead of us. We’re fully committed to getting that done.”

Q: How’s the adjustment been for LaMarr Woodley playing with his hand in the ground instead of standing up?

Allen: “Really, I don’t think there’s been a tough adjustment. I think the biggest adjustment for all these guys is just getting used to the terminology. Everything that we’re asking him to do are things that he’s done in the past. He did it when he was at the University of Michigan. He did it at Pittsburgh. He just happened to be standing up in a two-point stance most of the time when he did that. There’ll be times when we may ask him to do some things out of the two-point stance, but I think he’s adjusted well and I’m looking for good things out of LaMarr Woodley.”

Q: With the announcement of Denver Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen’s illness, do you have any thoughts on what he meant to your career?

Allen: “Well, I owe a lot to Pat Bowlen,  John Fox, John Elway, those guys over at the Denver Broncos’ organization. I think it’s a sad situation for everybody involved, because really Pat Bowlen has been one of the instrumental parts of the National Football League. I’m sure that he’s going to be missed in the National Football League, and I’m sure he’s going to be missed in that building there.”

Quotes from Raiders.com

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