New brain trust set to redefine Raiders 

click to enlarge Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie at press conference at the Raiders practice facility. - KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT-US PRESSWIRE
  • Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE
  • Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie at press conference at the Raiders practice facility.

The Raiders have been down this road before: old coach out, new coach in.

And once again, that will be the case as players report to training camp in Napa this weekend in advance of Monday’s first full-squad practice.

Former Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Dennis Allen has taken over as coach for Hue Jackson, who went 8-8 in his one full season at the helm.

But 2012 takes on a different feel because the man upstairs, Al Davis, is no longer around after dying on Oct. 8. General manager Reggie McKenzie has taken over to make all the personnel decisions and his impact has already been felt.

Even for an organization that has seen plenty of change, 2012 could top them all.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever been around this much turnover as much as staff and players,” veteran punter Shane Lechler said. “From what I see it looks like everything is running pretty smooth and up-tempo. I’ve been through different coaching staffs. This one has a different vibe than all of them.”

One of the first tasks for Allen’s staff to address will be to eradicate penalties. Allen said the Raiders will be tough, smart and disciplined and that the penalty problem will be a big focus of training camp.

Last season, the Raiders set NFL records with 163 penalties for 1,358 yards, a feat that was certainly noticed around the league.

“To give it lip service doesn’t do it justice,” said Raiders defensive end David Tollefson, who was with the New York Giants last season. “The number of penalties this team had was unreal. To go 8-8 on top of that, it’s kind of impressive.”

The other area where accountability will be paramount will be with the Raiders’ weakness defending the run. Gap integrity has been missing for years — the Raiders were 29th against the run last year and that’s about the area they’ve resided since 2002.

Quarterback Carson Palmer has certainly been impressed with the changes he’s seen practicing against the defense in the offseason.

“Our defense has everything — every possible coverage, every alignment,” Palmer said.

On the offensive side of the ball, Palmer believes a new offensive system featuring moving pockets and precision passing will be the rebirth of his career.

Palmer has already taken control of the offense in a leadership role. A year ago, showing up via trade after Jason Campbell broke his collarbone, Palmer did his best to be a leader but it was clear that in some quarters there was a bit of a hangover among some players with regard to Campbell, who was particularly tight with the receiving corps. Toward that end, Palmer has already had offseason workouts with wideouts including starters Darrius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore.

Palmer’s relationship with his receivers could be a moot point if Oakland doesn’t have a fully healthy Darren McFadden in the backfield.

McFadden appeared headed toward a 1,600-plus yard season until a severe mid-foot sprain cut short his season after seven games.

His return to form will be a major storyline to follow during training camp.

— Staff, wire report

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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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