NEW ORLEANS -- Dennis Allen remembers sitting at a table at his first staff meeting as an assistant coach with the New Orleans Saints, listening to a voice that would define his future.

"One of the things Sean Payton says is, when you take this staff picture, I want to be able to look back on it 10, 15, 20 years from now and see where guys have gone on to have success, to be head coaches and coordinators," Allen said. "He's always been great about trying to promote his guys. It's something he takes great pride in."

While general manager Reggie McKenzie has restructured the Raiders' front office and personnel department using what he learned working for the Green Bay Packers, the on-field operation as structured by Allen in many ways mirrors New Orleans.

Oakland Raiders head coach Dennis Allen, left, and his mentor, New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton.
Oakland Raiders head coach Dennis Allen, left, and his mentor, New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton.

Allen returns to New Orleans, with Payton on the opposite sideline, when the Raiders visit the Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome at 5 p.m. Friday.

Payton hired Allen off the staff of the Atlanta Falcons in 2006 as an assistant defensive line coach. Allen became defensive backs coach in 2008 and stayed there until he became defensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos with Payton's blessing in 2011.

Raiders safety Usama Young, who played for the Saints from 2008-10, can see the similarities between teams run by Payton and Allen.

"The tempo of the practices, the meetings, the way you prepared for things you never would have even considered, they're very much the same," Young said.


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Allen said he indeed borrowed heavily from New Orleans, where he won a championship ring after the 2009 season with a 31-17 win over the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV.

"The way we practice, the way we meet, the schedule that we have, a lot of that comes from the time I had in New Orleans," Allen said. "We had a lot of success doing it that way. It's no different than growing up as a child. You develop a lot of your personality, your character, from the environment that you're in."

In much the way that Payton repeated some of the things he learned under Bill Parcells as a Dallas assistant, Allen is passing along things he learned from Payton.

"I catch myself a lot of times with the same demeanor, the same message, even the same delivery," Allen said. "You've got to be your own guy as the head coach, and coach to your own personality. But there are a lot of things I've seen him do as far as managing a team that I've tried to incorporate."

With Payton being an offensive coach and Allen being a defensive coach, Young has been around Allen much more than he was ever around Payton.

"Sean would come in, draw a couple of things on the board, then he'd be off with the offense," Young said. "D.A., he's in the room with us scheming, adding things, drawing up things."

Allen said he stays in touch with Payton although not so much during training camp. When Payton was suspended last season for his role in the Saints' bounty scandal, he was prohibited from talking with anyone associated from an NFL team.

"He couldn't do anything with anybody, and that was tough, because he's obviously one of my mentors," Allen said.

New Orleans went 7-9 last season with Payton under suspension after winning 37 games the previous three seasons. Allen expects a return to form.

"I think you'll see a different New Orleans team this year with him back," Allen said.

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.