Raiders' Allen sets about changing culture in Oakland

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

All present and accounted for.
That was the report by Raiders coach Dennis Allen as he prepared for his first training camp practice as a head coach.
The last transaction was the signing of fifth-round draft pick Juron Criner, the final non-first-round pick in the league to sign.
"You never know what's going to happen in those negotiations but we felt pretty good all along he'd be in training camp," Allen said.
Coming out of the team's mandatory minicamp in mid-June, the biggest physical concerns were center Stefen Wisniewski (shoulder surgery) and wide receiver Denarius Moore (hamstring strain). Both should be good to go.
With drama at a minimum other than the unexpected resignation of assistant line coach Steve Wisniewski, Allen's mission is to change the culture of an organization which hasn't had a winning season in the last nine years, topping out at .500 in 2010 and 2011.
Reggie McKenzie is doing that with the front office and the structure of the football organization. It's up to Allen to accomplish it on the field.
One point of emphasis is to understand that in the world of the new collective bargaining agreement, practice time is precious.
"There's only so many days that you get to practice," Allen said. "You've got to give them five days off before the last preseason game, and one day off every seven days.
"You're only practicing one real practice a day and the other is a walk-through. Our ability to get the most out of the limited opportunities is critical. The teams that are able to do that the best are going to benefit from it."
Allen has been stressing it with the team since he was hired, and he and McKenzie have sought players that will help drive the point home within the locker room.
"It's up to the players to enforce that amongst ourselves that work is being done and we're getting better," defensive end Dave Tollefson said. "Now, more than ever, a wasted day can hurt you. You've got to take advantage of every single day you have on the field, whether it's a walk-through or a padded practice."
Tollefson was sought to play in the defensive line rotation and help address weaknesses against the run, but also because he played on two Super Bowl championship teams with the New York Giants.
"When you look at the successful teams in the NFL and teams that sustain success for long periods of time, they have great leadership," Allen said. "Those guys within the team, they police themselves. When their vision of the culture and the way it's supposed to be done meets the coach's vision, that's when you've really got it."

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