With drama at a minimum as the Raiders officially opened training camp on Monday other than the unexpected resignation of assistant line coach Steve Wisniewski over the weekend, new coach Dennis Allen’s mission is to change the culture of an organization which hasn’t had a winning season in the last nine years, topping out at .500 in 2010 and 2011.
Reggie McKenzie is doing that with the front office and the structure of the football organization. It’s up to Allen to accomplish it on the field.
One point of emphasis is to understand that in the world of the new collective bargaining agreement, practice time is precious.
“There’s only so many days that you get to practice,” Allen said. “You’ve got to give them five days off before the last preseason game, and one day off every seven days. You’re only practicing one real practice a day and the other is a walk-through. Our ability to get the most out of the limited opportunities is critical.”
Allen has been stressing it with the team since he was hired, and he and McKenzie have sought players that will help drive the point home within the locker room.
“It’s up to the players to enforce that amongst ourselves that work is being done and we’re getting better,” said defensive end Dave Tollefson, a former Ygnacio Valley High School (Concord) and Los Medanos College (Pittsburg) standout.
Tollefson was sought to play in the defensive line rotation and help address weaknesses against the run, but also because he played on two Super Bowl championship teams with the New York Giants.
“When you look at the successful teams in the NFL and teams that sustain success for long periods of time, they have great leadership,” Allen said.