GLENDALE, Ariz. -- After a couple of weeks of training camp and one preseason game, it is clear that rookie coach Dennis Allen is focused, driven, intense and well-prepared.

One thing Allen is not, however, is a control freak.

In recent years, late owner Al Davis stressed his preference for offensive play-callers as head coaches, feeling it was crucial to the tempo and the makeup of the team.

When the Raiders visit the Arizona Cardinals on Friday night at University of Phoenix Stadium, Allen will leave the play-calling to his assistants.

Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp will run the offense, and defensive coordinator Jason Tarver will run the defense.

Allen is not only the Raiders' first coach with a defensive background since John Madden, but he also embraces Madden's philosophy of tending to the overall product rather than seizing control of his area of expertise.

"I've got to oversee the whole operation, and it's hard to do that when you're so focused in on one side of the ball or the other," Allen said.

The last two Davis hires who were in their 30s, Jon Gruden in 1998 and Lane Kiffin in 2007, were head coaches and play-callers who left the defense to the coordinators with input from Davis.

Allen, at 39 the youngest head coach in the NFL, saw different approaches at his previous stops. While Allen was an assistant in Atlanta, head coach Dan Reeves was heavily involved in the offense. Reeves' successor, Jim Mora, took an overseer approach.


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Allen's boss in New Orleans, Sean Payton, ran the offense as head coach.

Allen decided what worked for coach John Fox in Denver last season would be his plan in Oakland. Allen sets the tenor, tone and philosophy with his staff but mostly lets his assistants handle their areas of expertise.

"(John) was obviously involved, and he had thoughts and ideas, and he was a great guy and a resource for me to bounce thoughts and ideas off of," Allen said, "and yet, he let me call the game on Sunday, and that's kind of the same approach I've taken."

Raiders punter Shane Lechler has been surprised to see Allen sitting in on special-teams meetings.

"We haven't had that here," Lechler said. "Special teams a lot of times do the dirty work, and to have him in there kind of helps out the mood of the room a little bit."

Allen went to his first-ever offensive-line meeting in Napa but said he mostly has been an observer.

"For the most part, I'm a fly on the wall, sitting in there, watching how we're installing different things, just getting a feel for the plan," Allen said. "I think I hired some good people that are fully capable of doing the job. Part of being a leader is to hire good people, declare your expectations and get out of the way and let them do their job."

Given the authority to hire his staff by general manager Reggie McKenzie, something that didn't happen with coaching hires under Davis, Allen has his own people in place. Quarterback Carson Palmer said Allen's belief in his assistants is more than lip service.

"I think head coaches probably get more involved than they want if they don't completely trust their hires," Palmer said. "He trusts the guys he hired, and he doesn't feel the need to go over and interrupt or cut in."

  • Raiders defensive tackle Tommy Kelly had this to say about the defense's performance against Dallas on Monday: "It's the first time in nine years we ever looked that good tackling in the first game of the preseason, so whatever they're doing must be working."

    The Cowboys won the exhibition opener 3-0.

  • Allen said the first-team offense (including running back Darren McFadden) and defense can expect to see a "significant" increase in playing time against Arizona.

  • Players ruled out of the Cardinals game are wide receiver Denarius Moore (hamstring), Lechler (knee), tackle Zach Hurd (head), tackle Ed Wang (shoulder), center Stefen Wisniewski (calf), running back Rashawn Jackson (hip), running back Taiwan Jones (hamstring), tight end Brandon Myers (shoulder) and linebacker Aaron Curry (knee).

    Defensive tackle Jamie Cumbie (foot) and defensive end Jack Crawford (foot) will be game-time decisions.

    Safety Michael Huff will miss the game to attend the birth of his first child.

  • Linebacker Korey Bosworth, a first-year player out of UCLA, was signed to the roster and traveled to Arizona. He is the nephew of former Oklahoma All-America linebacker Brian Bosworth.

    For more on the Raiders, visit the Inside the Oakland Raiders blog at ibabuzz.com/oaklandraiders. Follow Jerry McDonald on Twitter at Twitter.com/Jerrymcd.