Allen hopes Cowboys come back to Napa

August, 14, 2014
Aug 14
6:05
PM ET
OXNARD, Calif. -- Sure, there were brawls, five of them, in fact, big enough to stop the action of the two joint practices here. And there was the fan who swung a replica helmet at Dallas Cowboys cornerback B.W. Webb, plus the numerous scuffles throughout.

But you’d have a hard time finding anyone from either Oakland or Dallas who did not consider the joint effort a rousing success. So successful, in fact, Oakland Raiders coach Dennis Allen hopes the Cowboys come to Napa, California, next summer for the, ahem, rematch.

[+] EnlargeTyvon Branch
AP Photo/Jae C. HongScuffles didn't take away from the productivity of joint practices with the Cowboys, Raiders coach Dennis Allen said.
“I don’t know if that’s 100 percent determined,” Allen said after Wednesday’s practice. “I think there have been some preliminary discussions and we’d like to be able to do it. But again, it’s probably too early to say for sure.”

But what gave this week’s workout an added oomph might not be possible on the grounds of Napa’s Redwood Middle School -- an overflow of fans. The Cowboys announced a crowd of 8,326 for Tuesday’s opening practice, with Raiders fans sequestered to one side and Cowboys fans on the other, funneled into their areas through fences that resembled cages and/or European soccer-style fan seating.

The Raiders played host to fans for 12 of their 13 practices in Napa and there was no separation, save for a painted yellow line on the grass and waist-high tape between posts, between the fans and the field. Capacity was about 1,000.

In Oxnard, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett called the opening practice “as electric an atmosphere as I’ve ever been around on a practice field, really in my life.”

A visibly pumped-up Allen said, “What a hell of an atmosphere to practice football in. That’s what Raider Nation is really all about, man. That was awesome to see those [fans] come out and support us like that. It almost felt like, at times, that I had to quiet the crowd down just so we could get some plays off. It was a great atmosphere.”

And while it’s hard to imagine a joint practice being held in front of fans at the Raiders’ current training camp facility in Wine Country, Allen sees bigger benefits from a pure football standpoint.

“Absolutely,” Allen said, “I like doing this. I think it does nothing but help your football team.

“Again, any time you get in these competitive environments, I think it increases the sense of urgency of your football team. I thought we got better over these last couple of days.”

Injury update: cornerback Chimdi Chekwa (knee) was not the only Raiders player unable to finish Wednesday’s practice as receiver Juron Criner was also sidelined. “I think Criner had a groin injury or a hip, so he wasn’t able to go,” Allen said.
“He tried to go out here through individual [drills] and wasn’t able to go.”

The Raiders’ home exhibition opener against the Detroit Lions Friday night at 7 p.m. PT will be broadcast live locally on KTVU 2.

Paul Gutierrez

ESPN San Francisco 49ers reporter

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