A snot-nosed high school senior in Shane Lechler was hosted by rising college senior Dennis Allen on his recruiting trip to Texas A&M back in the Clinton Administration. The first Clinton Administration.
And after red-shirting his first year at College Station, Lechler saw Allen virtually every day of his college career with the Aggies, what with Allen spending those four years as a graduate assistant there.So forgive Lechler if he's not all that surprised with his one-time college "host" now assuming the reigns as his professional coach.
"I've known D.A. since '94 and he's always been a very professional guy," Lechler told CSNCalifornia.com in a telephone interview from Hawaii, where he is preparing for his seventh Pro Bowl."Just check out his pedigree. He's a pay-attention-to-detail guy. I'm not saying we haven't had that here (in Oakland) before, but D.A.'s going to take it to another level."Since joining the Raiders as a fifth-round draft pick out of Texas A&M in 2000, Lechler has played for (take a breath now) Jon Gruden, Bill Callahan, Norv Turner, Art Shell, Lane Kiffin, Tom Cable and Hue Jackson, with Al Davis overseeing the entire operation. (OK, now you can exhale.)Now, Lechler has Allen and a new general manager in Reggie McKenzie to fill the void left by the death last Oct. 8 of Davis.At 39 -- he turns 40 on Sept. 22 -- Allen is the youngest coach in the NFL."Yeah, he's young but look at the experience he's already had in Atlanta and New Orleans and then he turned around the defense in Denver," Lechler said. "Any time I've crossed paths with him his attention to detail has impressed me."Even though he was just a G.A. (at Texas A&M), guys still listened to him and respected him. You could see it was in his future."Indeed, many observers saw Allen as a coach-in-waiting. McKenzie, though, believes his future is now. With the Raiders. And with a buttoned-down, no-nonsense style."That's going to be his approach," Lechler said. "He's not a huge rah-rah guy; he's a football coach. And that's what we need right now. We're headed in the right direction."
Raiders general Reggie McKenzie plans to extend quarterback Derek Carr’s contract this offseason. That isn’t a new thing, something that has been in the works for some time. He re-affirmed that fact last week, citing his team’s commitment to work out a long-term deal likely the biggest in franchise history.
Carr was reportedly frustrated with the pace of contract talks after the NFL draft – they’re supposed to heat up this spring and summer – but said he believes a deal will get worked out before training camp begins.
That’s his deadline for an offseason deal, the point where he wants focus honed on football.
“I have an agent who is in charge of that and I am confident that he and Mr. (Reggie) McKenzie will work it out,” Carr, a Fresno State alum, told the Fresno Bee. “I am only focused on becoming a better football player and helping my teammates become better players.
“I have complete faith it will get done before training camp. These things take time. The Raiders know I want to be here; this is my family, and I know they want me to be their quarterback.”
The sides have discussed parameters of a long-term deal, with greater specifics to be ironed out in the future. Carr has long said he wants to be a Raider his entire career. The Raiders want him as the public face of their franchise. A new deal is expected by all parties, a sentiment that has never wavered on either side.
Carr is scheduled to make a $977,519 in base salary in 2017, the final year of his rookie contract.
The Raiders offseason program is five weeks old. Players have lifted weights. They’ve improved cardiovascular shape. They’ve done drills in position groups and discussed schematics. They’ve added rookies to a group now 90 strong.
On Monday, they can finally put on helmets. They still can’t wear pads or have full contact, but the Raiders can play 11-on-11. Receivers will be covered. Quarterback Derek Carr will throw into traffic. Generally speaking, the competition cranks up a bit.
The NFL collective bargaining agreement has strict mandates regarding offseason activity, and a period formally called “Phase III” allows for more realistic on-field football work.
The Raiders will conduct 10 OTA sessions over the next three weeks. The media can watch three of them. Tuesday is the first, with another in each of the next two weeks. These sessions are technically voluntary, though the Raiders generally hover around perfect attendance. Head coach Jack Del Rio prefers his team be unified in the offseason. Players know it and show up.
There is a mandatory minicamp from June 13-15 which wraps the offseason program and starts a quiet period that extends until training camp begins in late July.
These OTAs offer an opportunity for new players to learn the system, for adjustments to be made and for chemistry to be built heading into a 2017 season where expectations are high.