INDIANAPOLIS -- Within hours of joining Dennis Allen's staff, new Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Knapp made a phone call to his quarterback.
Initially, there were questions about Carson Palmer's future with the Raiders after Hue Jackson, the man who brought him to Oakland in a blockbuster trade, was fired.But there is no longer any uncertainty about Palmer's role with the Raiders in 2012. Both Allen and Knapp have come out in strong support of the Raiders incumbent quarterback.
"I've heard all these great things about him before I got here and since I've been here," Knapp told CSNBayArea.com before returning from the NFL scouting combine.
"Talking to him on the phone about a half-dozen times, and I think I'm just as excited to work with him as he is to work in our offense."
Knapp, who previously worked for the Raiders during the forgettable Lane Kiffin era, is excited, all right. He used a form of the word six times in a six-minute interview.What's not to be excited about?Knapp spent the past three seasons as quarterbacks coach with the Houston Texans. The allure of returning to California was great, but he said he was even more eager to sign on with Allen and new general manager Reggie McKenzie.
"There's a definite positive vibe going on," Knapp said. "I was very excited to see what Reggie's plan was when I came in and initially met with him.
"D.A.'s energy is contagious with everybody. The players are feeling it. The guys who have been in the building for a long time -- equipment guys, trainers, video guys -- are feeling it. It's neat to be a part of something at the ground level and build this thing."
There isn't a whole lot of building that needs to happen on offense, as Knapp already has the main component of a passing game with a veteran quarterback. And he is reunited with one of the more dynamic running backs in the league.
"I was here last in 2008, and Darren McFadden was a rookie that year," Knapp said. "I'm excited to get back with him. He really fits our run scheme well, as far as the zone scheme which I'll be implementing with our coaches. That's a great starting point for me."
While Knapp has been in the NFL, he has been on staffs that regularly enjoyed success on the ground with such running backs of varied styles, such as Garrison Hearst (49ers), Warrick Dunn (Atlanta), Justin Fargas (Raiders) and undrafted Arian Foster (Houston).And Knapp believes McFadden has the perfect running style for the offense the Raiders will employ.
"He doesn't mess around when he runs," Knapp said. "When he makes a cut, he's going north and south. And he has the ability to go the distance any time the ball is in his hands. That's hard to find in this business because there is so much speed on the field on defense. Darren has the attributes to be able to take the ball all the way and score."
Knapp said in addition to Palmer and McFadden, he has also spoken with pending free agent running back Michael Bush, backup quarterback Terrelle Pryor and guard Cooper Carlisle. Due to new NFL rules, his first chance to begin coaching the new system to the players will be April 2.
"There will be a learning curve," he said. "I think that happens with any transition with a new team. But we'll have plenty of time to get it implemented. Whenever we're in a start-up mode like we are here, like a start-up company, it's my job to make sure that we don't do everything at once but piece it correctly together. We'll have building blocks, so to speak, to implement the offense."
And he'll have plenty of help.Steve Wisniewski was retained from the former staff as an assistant offensive line coach. Knapp added Frank Pollack, with whom he coached with the Houston Texans. Pollack knows the zone scheme from his training with legendary line coach Alex Gibbs and Texans line coach John Benton.
The Raiders also retained running backs coach Kelly Skipper, who served on the same Oakland staff with Knapp in 2007 and 2008. Another key individual retained is veteran coach Al Saunders, who held the title of offensive coordinator under Jackson and is back as "senior offensive assistant."
"It was great to be able to retain Al Saunders, who knows football and football's football," Knapp said "And he has enough years of experience, and he'll be very helpful in game-planning and talking about personnel."
With Allen's background on the defensive side, Knapp figures to have autonomy to run the show on offense. But Knapp said he does not look at it that way.
"I want Reggie's input on personnel and D.A.'s input on football stuff," Knapp said. "Those are two bright minds. That was a big reason I came here. The environment of how Reggie and D.A. envision the building and the team really coincides with what I believe it takes to play winning football. So I'm looking forward to getting a chance to work with those guys to help implement our offense and work together to win a championship."