Lechler: Allen 'to take it to another level'


Lechler: Allen 'to take it to another level'

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."

Donald Penn: Raiders players trust McKenzie will add right pieces

Donald Penn: Raiders players trust McKenzie will add right pieces

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.”

Raiders LT Donald Penn: QB Derek Carr 'almost 100 percent'

Raiders LT Donald Penn: QB Derek Carr 'almost 100 percent'

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.”