By Steve Corkran
Sunday, July 29th, 2012 at 3:32 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Here is the entire transcript from a question-and-answer session with Raiders coach Dennis Allen on Sunday afternoon in Napa:
Q: Do you have a conditioning test for the players?
A: “We went out there and ran. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a conditioning test where (people are graded). But we went out and got sweaty and we were able to evaluate where guys were conditioning-wise. But I wouldn’t call it a conditioning test.”
Q: Do players have to pass the test to be cleared to practice?
A: “Not per se. It’s really no different than anything else you do from a physical standpoint. It’s just another step in the process to make sure these guys are ready to go for camp.”
Q: Moore, Wiz, all the others cleared to practice?
A: “We’ll let you guys know tomorrow exactly who’s where, but Wiz and Moore will be practicing. I haven’t had a chance to talk to the training staff yet to find out exactly how all the physicals went, so I’m really not at liberty to say right now, but we’ll know later on this evening or, for sure, by tomorrow’s practice.”
Q: Do you anticipate placing any players on the physically unable to perform list?
A: “There’s a chance but, again, until we get through the whole physical process, I don’t really know.”
Q: Do you expect to fill the 90th roster spot?
A: “We don’t necessarily have a plan for that particular spot right now but we kind of wanted to leave ourselves a little bit of room in case we needed to make an adjustment during training camp. So, to bring a guy in, we wouldn’t have to cut somebody to bring somebody else in. So, right now, I would anticipate that that spot would be open.”
Q: Is there a premium on making the most out of every practice in light of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement?
A: “Yeah, there’s only so many days that you get to practice. You got to give them five days off before the last preseason game. You got to give them one day off every seven days. And you’re only practicing one real practice a day and then the other practice is a walk-through practice. So, our ability to get the most out of the limited opportunities that we got is going to be critical. The teams that are able to do that the best are going to benefit from it.”
What do players get out of walk-throughs and how do you know players are zeroed in?
It’s a lot of alignment assignment. And what I try and talk to those guys about is, ‘Listen, we’re at a walk-through tempo physically but mentally our minds have to be working a hundred miles an hour. That’s the thing that you have to make sure you do, is make sure that they’re focused. From a mental standpoint.
Was there ever any doubt about getting Criner in on time?
I mean, you never know what’s going to happen in those negotiations but we felt pretty confident all along that he would be in here for training camp.
What did he show you in minicamp?
He’s a big, athletic receiver that has a big catching radius and he went and made some plays for us in OTA’s. His ability to be a big target for the quarterback was a positive.
Is everybody here?
Did Criner’s and Streater’s performance this offseason help make it possible to trade Louis Murphy?
Well, yeah, obviously their emergence at OTA’s made that an option. What they did in the offseason made that something we could do.
How active are you going to be during camp? Do you anticipate that the guys you have on the roster are going to be the guys or that once teams cut guys that you’re going to add quite a few?
That’s a question … Nobody has a crystal ball. I can’t answer that. We’re going to look at every option that we can to make this team better. And we’ll do that from today through the end of the season.
Q: Was Steve Wisniewski’s departure something you knew was coming for a while, did it catch you by surprise, and did you think about adding a second line coach?
Allen: No. 1, is, yeah, it was a little bit of a surprise. Obviously he has his personal reasons as to why he made that decision. I will say this _ it was totally his decision. It was nobody else’s decision. We thought about whether or not to bring somebody in or not and we just felt like at this point, this late in the game, that the right thing for us to do is to stick with the coaches that we have and go forward, and I got every confidence in the world in Frank Pollack as an offensive line coach, being able to watch him throughout the OTAs and minicamp he did a great job and he’ll do a great job coaching the offensive line.
Q: Your outlook changed at all on defense, think you may have more than you realized when you came in?
Allen: That’s hard question to answer because we haven’t put the pads on. I think once we put the pads on we’ll have a better feel for where we’re at defensively and that will be an ongoing process. I will say that the way that they picked up the system throughout OTAs and minicamp I was pleased with the way we picked up the system.
Q: Tackling during practice philosophy . . . a couple of times taking them to the ground?
Allen: There may be a couple of times during the course of training camp we might have a live session, but for the most part, we won’t have live sessions. There will be some contact, and we try to keep them off the ground as much as possible, but every now and then guys go to the ground.
Q: First padded practice is . .
Allen: Let’s see, Monday, Tuesday . . . Wednesday.
Q: First two days you can’t hit (CBA)?
Allen: First two days we can’t have pads. We can have those little soft shells.
Q: How much first two days repeating OTAs and minicamp stuff?
Allen: Well, all of it will be. At the end of the day we got through probably, I don’t know, 90 percent, I’m just giving you a number of what we’re going to do this season, we got through OTAs and minicamp, at the end of the day it’s a little bit of a repeat process of going through all that at training camp, and as you get into game weeks you add a little bit here and there.
Are you comfortable for now with what you’re going with at running back? There has been some outside speculation that Cedric Benson or somebody like that could be headed here to have a heavy-legged replacement for Michael Bush. Are you comfortable with the situation as it is now?
“Yeah. That’s what we have, and that’s who we’re going with. Mike Goodson’s been a guy that – a couple of years ago in Carolina we got a chance to play him a couple of times, and he did a nice job as a replacement there. Obviously Taiwan’s an explosive back. So, the key is hopefully is that we’re able to keep Darren healthy and then if we’re able to that we’re going to be just fine.”
With a guy like Darren do you monitor him practice-wise and try to limit him at all? Or is it because he’s healthy, it’s full-go?
“Well, I think you see how things play out throughout training camp. There’s not a plan in place for anybody right now where we’re saying, ‘Well, we’re just going to limit this guy.’ But obviously there may be some people as we go throughout the course of training camp where we decide we’ve got to monitor them a little bit and maybe cut down on some of those reps.”
There were some years where San Diego wouldn’t even play LaDainian Tomlinson in the preseason. Do you plan on playing McFadden?
“That’s the plan. We’ll look at that on a game by game basis. I’m not sitting here right now thinking that there’s anybody on our team that we’re planning not to play.”
Would it be tough to hold somebody out when you have a new system and new coaches?
“Yeah. Obviously that’s all part of it. You want guys to go in and execute the system under game-like situations. We don’t have a plan for somebody not to play in a particular preseason game.”
With your offensive line at the practices we were at for a month and a half, it seemed like you had your five guys. Were you waiting until you got up here to weave in some of your younger guys to get reps with the 1’s or are you pretty much firm on the guys you have?
“Our depth chart’s not set. There was a little bit of maneuvering within the offensive line, but you’re right, it stayed pretty constant throughout most of the offseason. Nothing’s set in stone, especially at those positions – offensive line, defensive line, even linebacker to a certain extent. It’s hard to make a whole lot of moves until you start putting pads on, until you really get a chance to really evaluate those guys. So there’s a chance you may see a little bit more movement once we get the pads on and start working.”
What did you learn about Carson during the OTAs and the offseason that maybe you didn’t know?
“No. 1 is he’s extremely smart. He’s a great leader. He’s way more athletic than anybody gives him credit for. And he loves the game of football. This guy, he’s a competitor and he wants to be great. He’s done everything you could possibly want your quarterback to do.
Q: Pretty good sense of confidence going into a season with a proven quarterback like Palmer?
A: Yeah. This is a quarterback-driven league. For you to sustain success in this league you’ve got to have a good one and I think we do. So yeah, I think that gives you a lot of confidence.
Q: Penalties. Hammer that from Day 1?
A: We’ve already talked to them about it. I’ve already tried to show them through different visual aids how that has an effect on winning and losing football games. And we’ll monitor that situation as we go through practices and we’ll make whatever moves we need to try and hammer that point home and make sure they understand it’s costing us games so we can’t have it.
Q: Will you bring in officials?
A: There will be officials in here for three days during camp… I don’t have plans to bring anybody else in as of right now.
Q: Were you able to get away and recharge for training camp?
A: Absolutely. Absolutely. You have to. You can’t – it’s a 24/7/365 days a year job but I’ve got a family too. I’ve got a wife and two kids and I want to be a dad just as much as I want to be a coach. So we got away and spent some time as a family and now it’s time to get back to work.
Q: You ready for your first camp?
A: Yeah. Jacked up about it. We’re ready. It’s a start of a long journey and we’ll take it – and I know this is cliché – but we’ll take it one day at a time. And we’ll attack whatever challenges come up on a day-by-day basis and deal with them and keep pushing forward.
Q: Important to get players who police themselves in terms of not wasting practice?
A: Absolutely. When you look at the successful teams in the NFL and the teams that sustain success for long periods of time they have great team leadership. Those guys within the team, they police themselves. When their vision of the culture and the way it’s supposed to be done meets what the coach’s vision is that’s when you really got it. That’s the type of stuff we’re looking for and we need more guys like that who provide that type of leadership. At the end of the day, change is going to come because people decide to change. We might have a change in philosophy or a change in ideas but if people don’t change their actions. If you keep doing the same thing over and over again, you’ll keep getting the same results. We have to change our actions. That’s coaches, players the organization, whatever the case may be.
Q: How do you like the setup in Napa?
A: I think it’s a great set up. The fields are in great condition. Having our rooms right there next to the meeting rooms, the food’s been outstanding here so I think from that standpoint … the weather is great. I think it’s a great situation for camp.
Q: Important to get away for camp?
A: I do. I think obviously we’re about an hour from Oakland here. We’re away but not really too far away. But I think having everybody in one little area does a lot to build team chemistry. We want to eliminate all the distractions as much as we can.
Q: Do you like to have any outings like golf or wine train?
A: I think if we decide to do that which I don’t know, I don’t have that crystal ball. We’ll see if they want to do it on their day off.
Q: Are you like Sean Payton in terms paint-ball outings and other antics?
A: One thing is when Sean was doing all those things, number one you didn’t have as many offseason restrictions as far as the time and what you can do. You could still have two-a-day practices. You didn’t have to give them a full day off every seventh day. The times are a changing a little bit. I think once you get an established culture, an established team and they understand the way that you’re going to do things then it makes it easier to do those types of things.