Oakland, CA -- The Oakland Raiders held a mandatory mini-camp this week and the new look team did not disappoint. After a controversial year of ups and downs, the organization had to make some drastic changes. Owner, Mark Davis brought in a new general manager and a new coach during the off-season.
GM Reggie McKenzie was on the sideline watching head coach Dennis Allen direct his team in drills. With everyone is attendance Allen got a chance to see what he'll be working with this upcoming season. What neither McKenzie nor the head coach expected was for the players to come back better than ever and more hungry than ever.
"Nothing personal but obviously, before with, rest in peace, he [owner Al Davis] had his hands in all the defense," Michael Huff said. "He had all the little things he liked to do. Now with D.A [Dennis Allen] out there, we've got all kinds of blitz's, we've got 3-4, 4-3 fronts with a lot of variety. We have a lot of things going on so, I'm going to love it."
Dennis along with defensive coordinator Jason Traver worked on multiple schemes to change the predictable plays that were done in the past. Oakland didn't blitz much but now the goal is keep the opponent guessing on which play will be called until the final seconds. Huff will have will have much more responsibility playing standard defense among other things.
Matt Shaughnessy wasn't expected until training camp in August. He showed up and worked out with the first-team defense. Shaughnessy looked good, he missed the last 13 games of the season due to a shoulder injury. Another surprise was Richard Seymour coming back 10 pounds lighter. While the defense showed enthusiasm throughout the day you can sense the energy in the air. Everyone was excited to be there and learn from their new coach.
The offense played with a more uptempo speed and rarely dropped the ball. Something that was not the case in years past. A more cohesive group helped each other, took direction well and listened intently. Darren McFadden also back from injury looks ahead to the new season as a new start for him and the Raiders.
"I feel like I recovered great, I really just needed time to rest," said McFadden. "I'm looking forward to getting back out here. There's nothing I can do if I get injured so I put that behind me. I want to set an example out here for the younger guys to play hard like I do."
"He [Darren] looks extremely good to me, he looks fast, looks explosive and he knows what to do and how to do it," Allen explained. "As we all know the key is to keep this guy healthy, for him to have a good year."
A good year for the star running back means a good year for Oakland. Each player has enough home work to take with them before they meet again for camp. No one showed any disappointment with the direction of their new coach or the team. Terrelle Pryor also looks forward to getting better after camp wraps. The once sullied quarterback wants an opportunity to compete for backup QB against new signee Matt Leinart.
"Obviously I'm going to take the playbook and grab a couple of receivers, maybe some younger high school guys, maybe some NFL guys and just run the script that I have," said Pryor. "I'll have them run the same routes and go through my reads. I can't get enough of that. Like I said I don't have a lot of reps so I have to rep it by myself even if it has to be with a ghost to do my footsteps that's what I'll have to do. I'll get better. I'll be working hard."
"I've been please with the process so far," Dennis said. "Our execution was really good on both offense and defense, we have balance. I want the players to walk away and improve on what we started here."
Follow Malaika Bobino on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MalaikaBobino