Back in January, shortly after his hiring as the Raiders’ coach, Dennis Allen made his football mantra known to anyone who would listen.
“You coach ’em firm, and you coach ’em fair,” is how he vowed to drill his football team.
And during Tuesday’s mid-May workout, the 39-year-old’s declaration spilled out onto the Alameda practice gridiron.
Between three quarterbacks learning the playbook, a healthy Darren McFadden running routes and a rookie receiver demonstrating a pension for hauling in the long pass, Allen, all in all, was pleased.
“I think our guys are flying around, they’re working hard,” Allen said. “What we preach is to get a little better every day, which is what they’re doing.”
Quarterbacks Carson Palmer, Terrelle Pryor and new addition Matt Leinart anchored the unpadded passing drills, but while all put “the ball on the money,” it’s the veteran Palmer who has seemingly seized the team leader role.
“He’s taken a leadership role on this team,” Allen said of Palmer. “I think when you’re good, your quarterback is the leader of your team and he’s obviously done a good job this offseason in taking control of that.”
But it’s with this trio of throwers where Allen hopes his “firm, but fair” motto will help create camaraderie of competition.
“I think they’re all working together,” Allen said. “And I think they understand that for us to be good, they’ve all got to be pulling the rope in the same direction, and we can’t have factions going one way or the other.”
But while only so much can be taken from a May practice, it can be said that fifth-round draft pick Juron Criner out of Arizona appears to have a good set of mitts, and that Allen expects McFadden to be the “explosive, home run hitter” he was last year before succumbing to injury.
But what comes with the first-year coach is a delegating system that allows his trusted hires to work.
“Part of being the head coach is you want to hire good people,” Allen said. You want to declare your expectations ... then you want to get out of the way and let them work. That’s kind of my style. That’s what I’ll do. But I’m a coach at heart and I’ll get my hands dirty when I need to.”
NOTES: The Raiders signed free-agent fullback Owen Schmitt, a fifth-year veteran who’s previous stints included the Philadelphia Eagles and the Seattle Seahawks. ... The Raiders announced several hirings as part of a massive overhaul of the team’s personnel department. Joey Clinkscales (director of player personnel) and Shaun Herock (director of college scouting) were officially hired after agreeing to join the franchise last week. Also added were Teddy Atlas as scouting coordinator, Calvin Branch as a college scout, Zack Crockett as a college scout, Tom Delaney as director of football administration, Von Hutchins as a pro scout, Brad Kaplan as a college scout, Larry Marmie as a pro scout, Mickey Marvin as a college scout, David McCloughan as a college scout, Raleigh McKenzie as a college scout, Trey Scott as a college scout, and Dane Vandernat as a pro scout.