Raiders prepare for Broncos without head coach
Being mired in a five-game losing streak with a short week to
get ready for Peyton Manning and the first-place Denver Broncos is
The Oakland Raiders have to do it without their head coach.
Dennis Allen left the team after Sunday’s 20-17 loss to
Cleveland to be with his father, who has a serious medical issue.
Allen is expected to rejoin the team on Wednesday night and be on
the field Thursday when the Raiders (3-9) host the Broncos
But until then, offensive coordinator Greg Knapp will oversee
the team and defensive coordinator Jason Tarver will map out the
”This is a pretty unique season, both on and off the field,
I’ll say that,” Tarver said Monday. ”There’s a bunch of adversity
and the true character of a man and a coach and whoever is to, no
matter what the circumstances, be a pro and handle your business.
But I’ve been a part of a lot of different situations, both in this
league and in coaching, but there’s some unique things that have
happened this year.”
Allen is with his family in the Dallas area helping to care for
his 66-year-old father, Grady, a former NFL linebacker with the
Atlanta Falcons. Knapp said he texted Allen on Monday morning to
pass on good wishes and planned to talk to the head coach as the
team prepared for the Broncos.
Oakland did not practice on Monday and will have two brief
practices before the game Thursday. With the short week, the
position coaches had begun some of the scouting of the Broncos last
week to allow the coordinators to put together the game plan on
Sunday night and Monday.
Allen, a former defensive coordinator in Denver, is typically
heavily involved in the defensive game plan, while giving more
general tips about philosophy for Knapp to use on offense.
”Today we went right into a normal Tuesday routine for
coaches,” Knapp said. ”We started game planning this morning for
Denver, and then our practice schedule for the next two days will
obviously be a little bit shorter because our guys need to still
recover from this game and get ready for the next game. From a
game-plan standpoint, you condense maybe three days of practice
into two. From a coaching standpoint, you’ve done a lot of work
ahead of time, so you can make it happen a little bit sooner during
While Knapp is officially in charge of the team while Allen is
away, he said the only real additional responsibility he will have
is to decide when to blow the horn to move to the next practice
Some of the players just learned of Allen’s absence on Monday
and wanted to pass their best wishes on to their coach and his
family. They said it will be hard to concentrate entirely on the
Broncos knowing what Allen is going through.
”I think it will because obviously we’ll be caring about his
situation, just wondering what’s going on,” cornerback Michael
Huff said. ”But we know we have a game to get ready for. It will
because we’ll be worried about him, but I think we’ll still walk on
the field and focus.”
The Raiders will need to be at their best to have a chance
against the Broncos. Oakland has lost five straight games and was
carved up by rookie Brandon Weeden on Sunday in the loss to the
Now the defense must deal with Manning, who was 30 for 38 for
338 yards and three touchdowns in Denver’s 37-6 home win over
Oakland in Week 4.
The Raiders are also dealing with a number of injuries in the
secondary, with starting free safety Matt Giordano, backup safety
Mike Mitchell and backup cornerback Phillip Adams all leaving
Sunday’s game with concussions.
The three will need to pass the league’s concussion protocol in
order to play Thursday, which could be difficult because of the
That could lead to a patchwork secondary on Thursday night.
”You’re never really ready for Peyton Manning,” Tarver said.
”It’s a matter of getting on the same page and having enough
coverage looks to hopefully slow down his progression and challenge
guys in coverage, that’s what we need to do.”
NOTES: RBs Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson are expected to play
after missing the previous four games with sprained right ankles.
… The Raiders are hosting their first Thursday game since Oct.
25, 1979, against San Diego. They have played eight Thursday road
games since then.
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