Friday, June 20, 2014
Allen: 'We've had an outstanding offseason'
By Paul Gutierrez
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders' offseason workouts began on April 22. They concluded Thursday with the end of a mandatory three-day minicamp.
So what did Dennis Allen, entering his third season as the Raiders' head coach, glean from nearly two months of being around his team as it begins its reconstruction in earnest, especially with training camp about five weeks away?
Consider: Every Raiders draft pick is signed and every Raiders player under contract was in attendance for the minicamp. No contract haggling, squabbling or unnecessary drama.
"I like the direction we're headed as a football team," Allen said. "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."
An infusion of veteran talent with past success, especially on the defensive side of the ball, such as Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley and Antonio Smith -- as well as Oakland taking linebacker Khalil Mack with the No. 5 overall draft pick -- has given the team a new identity.
And on offense, the Raiders have a seasoned, new quarterback in Matt Schaub and a hot prospect in second-round draft pick Derek Carr, who has overtaken Matt McGloin as Oakland's second-string signal-caller.
Injury-wise, guard Lucas Nix (knee) is the only player Allen sees as potentially missing the start of training camp, even though cornerback D.J. Hayden (foot) participated in just one organized team activities (OTAs) session and linebacker Kevin Burnett (ankle) and Smith (undisclosed) missed them all while recovering from injuries.
Allen was asked if there was a palpable feel on the practice field that this was, indeed, a better team than he had the previous two years.
"I don't think there's any question you can feel that," Allen said. "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."