Thursday was the final day of minicamps for the Raiders. And with the longest part of the offseason about the begin, and the media set to not see the team again until late July, Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie sat down for a press conference with those of us in attendance. Here are a few select quotes from the 30 minute meeting:
Q: Is team farther along than you thought with implementing new system and all?
McKenzie: I personally think we're farther along than I thought we would. I knew they were going to throw in a lot on both sides of the ball. But it was good to see things going right a whole lot more than wrong as far as coaches yelling and screaming, running a play over and over again. Every day you didn't hear a lot of that. That's a good indication that players are getting it and coaches are coaching it. But hopefully training camp they digest it even more and we become more complete. It's still year one. I don't think we're looking for a situation where players are going to act like they've been here for five years in one system, playing with each other and they know each other like the back of their hand. I don't see that but I do see guys working very well together and getting it right. I feel good about it.
Q: Do you expect to add some players before training camp?
McZ: Oh yeah, we're going to continue to scour the waiver wire. We've still got one spot open. We'll probably make a couple moves before training camp.
Q: Looking for big back with loss of Bush?
McKenzie: We don't have that big back, but we've got a couple of backs that are playing fullback for us that can be that guy. We feel good about the versatility of Marcel, and all our fullbacks have the ability to run it. Schmitt can run it, short yardage. We got some guys that can, I'm kind of anxious to see them in preseason. But like I said, we'll continue to beat down the doors and see if we can bring guys in. We won't stop that until it's time to play our Monday night game in September. We'll continue. Nothing is on the horizon, though.
Q; What learned about Dennis seeing him as head coach?
McKenzie: I think, from a standpoint of big picture, he gets it. He's always a step ahead, which is good. I like the way the players are responding. And his assistant coaches. He's all over that defense, which I like. That's good. He's talking to the offense, too, he's not just all defense, but he's acting like a real head coach. You can't tell he hasn't been a head coach before.
Q: Looking for teacher?
McKenzie: yes. Can't teach, can't coach.
Q: Was it important to bring in guys that you have a history with?
McZ: "Getting people that I know? And trust? And believe in? Absolutely. That's all part of it. You kind of prepare for a possible role like this, so the thought process went into it way before I made the decision. Yeah, you want guys who kind of have a feel for you so that when they're coming onboard they know what they're getting into."
Q: When Huff talks about being excited to play on a real defense - you played on a defense for the Raiders that was pretty good with Al having a heavy hand in it, and he always hired offensive-minded coaches. How much of a change was needed to have a defensive-minded coach and a defensive coordinator being allowed to do what he wanted to do?
McZ: "It was important for me - I'm a defensive-minded person. But going out to specifically say I'm going to hire a defensive coach, was not the case, but going out wanting to make sure I interviewed defensive coaches and hopefully liking one, I really wanted that. Because I really, truly believe defense wins championships. But, you know, to Huff's quote, I do think we've got some real defensive coaches, a real coordinator. I'm glad he feels that way that we got some good coaches and we got a good defense. I'm kind of anxious to see it play itself out in games, but more importantly I'm anxious to see how the players respond and play within that scheme."
Q: What training camp battles are you most looking forward to?
McZ: I'm looking at the linebacker position, because we added so many numbers. I want to see who jumps out and makes plays. I want to see some of these young receivers in live action, see how they jump out. As well as some of these young offensive linemen. With these DBs, I want to see what shakes itself out, out of the whole. Especially the cornerback group, see what shakes out there. I'm kind of looking forward to these positional competitions. Even the tight end position. Those guys are all competing their tails off, you know? I think all those guys will show well. All five of them, really. Kind of excited to see, just from the competitive standpoint, who steps out.