A transcript of Raiders’ coach Dennis Allen’s session with the media following the final practice of the mandatory three-day minicamp:
Allen: Listen, I think we had a heck of an offseason. I think our guys are battling, they’re competing, they’re working extremely hard. We’ve accomplished a lot in this offseason. We’ve got a lot better as a football team. Im excited about, we’re going to kick back a little bit, relax for a couple of weeks, and I think we’ve got the type of guys on this football team that are going to make sure they come back to training camp ready to go. It’s an exciting offseason and we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us but we’re excited about it.
Q: To get through these practices at an intense pace, but also healthy . . .
Allen: We’ve got a few bumps and bruises type of deal, but like I said before Lucas Nix is the only guy who I anticipate would be kind of (inaudible) whether he would be ready to go or not but other than that I expect to have everybody 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 cancelled last practice, it happens sometimes, ever a possibility . . .
Allen: No, I think, every situation is different. We took time out earlier in the offseason and had a team activity during one of the OTA days, but I thought this was an important practice for us 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?
Allen: Well, yeah, because every year is a new year and every team is a different team. So you always try to tailor your message towards what your team is and what type of football team that you have. We have a lot of veteran players here, so I expect those guys are going to do the things we need to do to be ready for camp.
Q: Talked about the great offseason, tangible, do you feel that when you’re out there . . .
Allen: I don’t think there’s any question you can feel that. You guys have been around here too. I think you’ve seen these practices here for awhile. I think we’ve had an outstanding offseason. 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 and do it when we get to training camp and when we get to the regular season.
Q: Competed some passes, lot of balls being contested, is that a good thing?
Allen: It’s a great thing. When you come out here, you never want to see anything totally one-sided, because that’s not the sign of a good football team. On a good football team you want to see the guys go out and compete, you want to see the offense win some, you want to see the defense win some, and I think you saw that, not only today, but throughout the offseason.
Q: Expect to see Burnett at training camp, competing for a job?
Allen: I do, absolutely I do.
Q: How excited to see Khalil Mack in pads?
Allen: I’m excited to see all these guys in pads. There’s a lot of guys on this team I haven’t seen go through a padded practice. I think the guys are excited about it. That’s real football, with 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’re expecting a lot out of him, drafted him, invoked the name Von Miller, one of the dominant players in the league. Can you put too much expectations on him or is that not a concern?
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 focusing on Khalil Mack being the best talent that he can be. I think he’s an outstanding talent. I think he’s got a huge upside and 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 receiver position a little behind?
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. I think these guys are out here working and they’re gonna 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 solid group of receivers.
Q: Great play by Mychal Rivera today, is he ready to step up?
Allen: Listen, I think he has a chance to be a very good player for us. I’m not gonna put him in that elite classification yet but he certainly is a weapon we can use as well as some other guys we have. Ausberry is a guy we didn’t have at all last year and he’s a guy I think can be a real receiving threat for us.
Q: How does Mack change what you do on defense?
Allen: Listen you’re looking for guys who have versatility and guys that can really affect the game. 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. 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 second team reps . . .
Allen: He’s taking most of the second-team reps. Like (Greg Olson) said yesterday we’re trying to expedite his progression and I’ve liked a lot of the things I’ve seen out of Derek. He still has a long way to go but I like the direction that he’s headed.
Q: Does Derek Carr start camp as No. 2?
Allen: I would think we would start that way.
Q: Taiwan Jones re-signed because of kick coverage, has he become a viable option at cornerback?
Allen: He’s gotten better. When you watch him he made a nice interception out here today. I’ve seen improvement. The position is a little bit foreign to him because it’s been a while since he’s played the position. I think the competition that we have really in all the rooms but in the defensive back room has kind of brought the best out of him too.
Q: Saw some good things from TJ Carrie at rookie camp. Has he carried it through OTAs and mandatory camp?
Allen: He absolutely has carried it through. I’ve been very impressed with him. 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 who is gonna make a play that kind of catches your attention. Really 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 and the development in the process here.
Q: Is DJ Hayden behind because of his injury?
Allen: Yeah. I don’t think there’s any way you can sugar coat that. He’s behind. But like I said the other day it’s nothing that he can’t overcome. 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 to training camp. We’re gonna go out and compete and we’re gonna find the best 11 guys we can put out there on defense and the guys that perform the best in training camp and preseason games, those are the guys who will get the chance to play.
Q; Austin Howard was not practicing today . . .
Allen: He has a finger. We sent him over to get an X-ray on his finger. Again it’s nothing that will be a big deal for him. More of a precautionary measure than anything else.
Q: His absence good since you look at other guys?
Allen: Listen it’s the next man up philosophy in the whole National Football League and any time there’s injuries you don’t like that but it creates an opportunity for somebody else. With him being out today we moved Gabe into the left side, Khalif over to right. It’s something you have to do when you go through the season. You have to of a little bit of mixing and matching. Obviously you want to keep the same five guys in there, keep the continuity. But it allowed for some extra work for Game so that was good for him.
Q: Do you have vacation plans?
Allen: I’m gonna spend a couple of weeks down in Florida. It will be a good time just me and the family hang out a little bit and then get back and be ready to go.
Q: All rookies signed and on board, 99 percent attendance through offseason, what does that say?
Allen: I like the direction we’re headed as a football team. I think we have a group of guys who are committed to winning. I think they’re committed to this organization and I think we have a lot of guys that have a lot to prove. That’s an exciting thing for a football coach and an exciting thing for these football players. I like our direction and I like our commitment. We just have to keep working.