By Steve Corkran
Sunday, August 26th, 2012 at 4:23 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Raiders coach Dennis Allen said Sunday afternoon that he is inclined to play anyone that is healthy in his team’s exhibition finale against the Seattle Seahawks, a break from the norm in the NFL, when teams typically rest their projected starters.
Even so, you won’t see starting center Stefen Wisniewski play against the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday night. Allen said as much Sunday.
It’s possible that wide receiver Denarius Moore’s hamstring injury will be healthy enough for him to play in that game. If not, Allen said he is confident that Moore will be ready to play in the regular-season opener Sept. 10.
Those are just a few of the nuggets gleaned from a 15-plus minute conference call with coach Allen on Sunday. Here’s a sampling of Allen’s thoughts on his players and their progress:
– Kicker Sebastian Janikowski’s groin injury isn’t “a big deal,” Allen said. That’s the hope, at least.
Allen said Janikowski suffered “basically a sore groin” while attempting to run down Justin Miller on a kick return Saturday. Heck, there’s even a chance of Janikowski playing against the Seahawks.
The smart money says, Allen holds out Janikowski, lets Eddy Carmona handle the kicking duties and gives Janikowski as much time as possible to heal in time for the opener.
– Wide receiver Jacoby Ford (left foot) now is able to walk around pain-free without the protective boot that he has sported since he got injured against the Cardinals.
“So, we’re making some progress there,” Allen said.
Ford still is using the boot from time to time, though. It’s doubtful that Ford will heal in time for the Seahawks game. The bigger question is, will he be recovered in time for the regular-season opener.
– Allen said defensive tackle Richard Seymour has what amounts to arthritis in one of his knees, which makes it imperative that the Raiders take it easy on their defensive leader.
“it’s more of a maintenance deal with Richard,” Allen said. “He’s got some arthritis, basically, in his knee. So, he gets a little pain, a little swelling, we got to be able to manage that.”
Seymour has missed every practice since he played against the Arizona Cardinals on Aug. 17. He also sat out the Lions game.
Seymour didn’t seem too concerned about the situation when asked about it Thursday. These veterans have a way of knowing when to crank it up. This is not the time.
– Already, names of players being cut by the Raiders in advance of the first mandatory cutdown are surfing on Twitter.
Safety Aaron Henry Tweeted that he has been informed of his release. Fellow safety Chaz Powell also was released, according to league insider Aaron Wilson.
The Raiders, as well as other teams, are required to be at no more than 75 players by Monday afternoon. I am told that the Raiders expect to issue a press release with the first round of player cuts later this afternoon.
– Cornerbacks DeMarcus Van Dyke and Chimdi Chekwa shouldn’t feel too secure about making the 53-man roster this season. Certainly not on the heels of Allen’s most-recent assessment about their play Saturday night.
“They were young corners,” Allen said in repsonse to what he saw. “We got to continue to work to get better with those guys. They do some good things and then all of a sudden you look up and say, ‘Why did they do that?’ I’m not totally down on them, but we got to get better there. We got to keep improving.”
Van Dyke and Chekwa were being groomed as the heir apparents to Stanford Routt and Chris Johnson last season. Now, they are being pushed by Allen just to show marked improvement.
– Once again, Allen kept in check his praise of second-year quarterback Terrelle Pryor, instead leaving it to fans and others to gush without taking into account the big picture.
Then again, that’s standard practice for a savvy coach that is hesitant to build up a player too soon for fear of that player feeling as if he has arrived.
“He did good,” Allen said after watching tape of the game and getting a better feel for Pryor’s play against the Lions. “Obviously, he had his good plays and he had his bad plays, but the thing that I was impressed with and the thing that I took out of the game is there was progress. There was progress on his part.”
Allen raved about Pryor’s improvement in calling out the plays in a prompt manner, controlling the huddle and the way he executed plays.
– Of the four pre-snap penalties committed by the Raiders in the first quarter Saturday, don’t blame the refs, Allen said.
“Every single one of them was a legitimate call,” Allen said. “Every single one of them was inexcusable on our part, and we can’t have those. We can’t have the pre-snap penalties, especially the two where we lined up offsides on defense. We can’t do that. That’s a lack of focus, that’s a lack of discipline. Those issues will be addressed and, as players, we’ve got to get it corrected.”
– Worried about the Raiders special teams play so far? Well, so is Allen. With that said, Allen doesn’t sound as concerned as many others.
“It’s obviously a concern,” Allen said. “We’ve got to be better in that area. Part of it is the fact that we’ve had a lot of different people playing a lot of different positions in the return game. We’ve had different returners back there returning. We haven’t had a lot of continuity as far as who those guys have been but, at the same time, we’ve got to execute better.
“A lot of times it’s one or two guys that keep you from having a good play, and you’re tackled inside your 15-yard line as opposed to, if you get your one block, maybe it’s a big return or if the returner reads it right maybe it’s a big return. We’re closer than what the stats say, but we’ve got to be better in that regard.”
Punter Shane Lechler said last week that special teams is something that takes time to work out for the very reasons Allen pointed out.
“Special teams is tough during the preseason,” Lechler said. “You’re sitting in a room with a whole bunch of guys that aren’t going to be there. It’s a grind. It’s just part of the process.”
In other words, give it time, folks, before calling for radical changes and coaching moves.