MOBILE, Ala. -- Denver defensive coordinator Dennis Allen was prepping for the interview of his professional life Tuesday afternoon during Senior Bowl week.Ace his interview later in the evening with new Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie, and Allen most likely becomes the 18th head coach in franchise history, the eighth since 2002. No pressure, right?"No, not at all," Allen told CSNCalifornia.com with what, nonetheless, appeared to be a nervous smile.Then where does the excitement of the opportunity outweigh the nervousness of the event?
"I think anytime anybody considers you in that category as a head coach," Allen said, "it's obviously exciting and hopefully things will work out."Earlier in the day, I spoke with Broncos defensive line coach Wayne Nunnely, who spoke glowingly of Allen while saying it would be a blow to Denver to lose Allen."He's a great leader, organized," Nunnely said. "I think he does a great job in preparing gameplans as well as getting the players (ready to play). He does a great job in front of the players."He'll do a good job. And really, he's young and he's energetic and that type of stuff, and has a great football mind and he'll do a great job. A great, great job."Allen, who turns 40 on Sept. 22, would be the first defensive-minded Raiders head coach since John Madden was promoted from linebackers coach by the late Al Davis in 1969. That's 13 coaches ago, counting Art Shell twice."It would be an exciting opportunity," Allen said. "I'm looking forward to getting a chance to talk to Reggie (tonight) and see how it goes."I want to be a head coach in the National Football League and hopefully, I'll get that opportunity."A safety as a college player at Texas A&M who also coached in the NFL with Atlanta (assistant defensive line coach) and New Orleans (assistant defensive line coach and secondary), he became Denver's defensive coordinator last season for first-year Broncos coach John Fox.I asked Allen what he knew of the Raiders, both as a team and as a franchise."We played them twice this past year," Allen said. I think they're an outstanding organization and it would be an honor to be able to work for them."
The Raiders were pretty darn good last season. A 12-4 record proved that point. There was plenty of talent on a team with a penchant for high-wire acts in victory that masked the fact there were holes on the roster.
They need to be filled for the Raiders to improve in 2017, and new players will be imported through free agency and the draft.
Left tackle Donald Penn is excited to see who gets added, but said there’s no doubt talent is coming to Oakland. He speaks for Raiders players, who have faith that general manager Reggie McKenzie will make the right moves.
“Things that Reggie has done in past drafts have been great, and we’re looking forward to seeing what he brings back towards us,” Penn said recently during an in-studio appearance on NFL Network. “We can’t wait to get back out there healthy. We’re ready to hit the football world with a storm.”
While new guys are coming, a few might head out. The Raiders have several unrestricted free agents. Penn wants to keep his guys around – he mentioned running back Latavius Murray by name -- though he has some ideas for McKenzie’s checklist.
The Raiders don’t need much with most key players under contract – the Raiders should be less active in free agency over past offseasons – but a few key components could put this team over the top.
“If we stick to Reggie’s plan, we’ll be great,” Penn said. “I know he’s going to have a great draft, add a couple little pieces here and there – maybe somebody in the secondary to help out a little bit.
"On offense, you could always use a weapon. Maybe we get another receiver to take (pressure off Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper), but we have a good nucleus right now.”
Derek Carr is on the mend. The Raiders franchise quarterback had surgery to repair his fibula shortly after he broke it in a Week 16 victory over Indianapolis, and is recovering well during the offseason.
Carr insisted on intense rehab this winter in an attempt – however unlikely it may have been – to return should the Raiders have played in the Super Bowl. It slowed to a normal pace after the Raiders' loss at Houston in the postseason’s opening round, but those in contact with him say he’s making strides.
Left tackle Donald Penn was recently in contact with Carr, and provided an update on Monday during an in-studio appearance on NFL Network.
“I texted Derek (a few) days ago checking in,” Penn said, “and he said he’s almost 100 percent.”
Surgically-repaired broken filbulas take significant time to heal, and the Raiders plan to be conservative with their MVP candidate during the offseason. Derek Carr’s brother and NFL Network analyst David Carr, who was on set with Penn on Monday, said Derek could be back for offseason work.
“He’s doing good,” David Carr said. “He’s walking around already, stretching it out. You can’t do a lot for the bone, right? But he’s going to be back. He’s going to get a whole full offseason in. That’s going to be the best part.”