ALAMEDA – Raiders Reggie McKenzie touched on several key topics during a 31-minute roundtable with Bay Area reporters on Wednesday afternoon.
He addressed the team’s desire to sign players like Lamarr Houston and Jared Veldheer. He talked about Matt Flynn’s arm trouble and how he hurt his chances to be the starting quarterback. He talked about several other topics important to Raider fans, the best of which are listed below.
-- McKenzie talked about Pryor’s ascension to starting quarterback, and how he earned the No. 1 job and why he’s energized the team and the fan base.
McKenzie’s take: “He has, in my mind, he’s made leaps and bounds from last year, from the time I spent with him. He’s done a good job. There wasn’t a play or anything (where Pryor earned the job), it’s just more his progress. The guy just comes in, goes to work, from the summer to training camp to each and every preseason game, he’s just gotten better and better. I think he’s getting more confident, and that just comes with playing.”
“I think he energizes more than just the fan base. He energizes his teammates and anybody that’s watching. Everybody like to see the big plays. And he’s a big play guy. So, yes, the fan base, I’m definitely sure they love to see him play.”
-- The Raiders have played better than most believed they could. McKenzie believes his team will compete all season because of talent and character.
McKenzie’s take: “I totally understand the negativity that was thrown our way throughout the whole offseason. But, with that being said, we knew what we had. We knew we had some guys that could compete. Whether it turns into a lot of wins, that remains to be seen. We’ve got to execute, we’ve got to make plays when the opportunity comes. But it’s nice to see for the first couple of weeks that those guys are fighting, they’re competing.”
-- McKenzie is excited to have salary-cap issues that have plagued the Raiders nearly behind them.
McKenzie’s take: “I think we’re moving in that direction, we really are. Next year, from an offseason standpoint, we’re going to be in line like the other teams. What I’m saying there is the cap won’t be an issue. I won’t be way out here while everybody else is able to play the free-agency game. That’s 2014. This year, we were able to get some pieces that we feel can help us. Hopefully, we can build on that every week and turn some of these games into some victories.”
-- The Raiders coaching staff has been put in some difficult positions, with so many new starters on defense, and an offense that had to be catered to an athletic quarterback late in the preseason.
McKenzie’s take: “I appreciate that. You have to do what you have to do personnel-wise, and coaches have to adjust and get them going. The coaching staff is to be commended. They're doing a great job. When you talk about players competing, the coaches are competing to, trying to get those guys to play to a high level. It’s a pretty good job they’ve done so far.”
-- Raiders owner Mark Davis demanded progress from his football people and their players. McKenzie said Davis has seen that.
McKenzie’s take: “We just talk football, talk injuries, talk about how the guys are doing. We know what we have before us, but he likes what he’s seeing so far, yeah.”
-- Jared Veldheer is rehabbing after triceps surgery. McKenzie updated his progress.
McKenzie’s take: “He’s had no setbacks and he’s itching to start the process now. Some of the work he’s not able to really do any of the football stuff yet so that will be in the coming weeks. We have no negative things that are happening with his elbow that are causing any setbacks at all.”
-- McKenzie knows fans question why fullback Marcel Reece doesn’t get the ball more often. He said Reece will be more involved.
McKenzie’s take: “We have to find him too. At times he can be covered. At times when it’s designed to go to him for whatever reason he doesn’t get it his way. That falls on a little bit of everybody. But he’s definitely a part of the offense now. We’ll get him the ball. I’m not drawing up the plays. I don’t know what I’d be doing, maybe a fumblerooskie. (laughs) He’s fine. It was nice for him to score the first touchdown of the year for us. That was nice. Nice run. I’m sure we’ll see more of Marcel this year. Trust me.”
-- McKenzie addressed the importance of running back Darren McFadden’s health.
McKenzie’s take: “He knows it’s important. He wants to be out there, he wants to show what he can do for the year. It’s important because contracts are important to players. Definitely not going to take that outlook away from him or any other player. Everybody wants to play well so they can get that contract.”