Everybody ready to go to camp? You got your sun tan lotion, all that stuff ready to go, huh. Let's get started . . .
Q: Shorter camps, and 1-a-day. Your philosophy?
Shell: The first few days of camp, we'll wear pads at least four of the first five days, twice a day and then we'll evolve to where we have one with pads, and one without pads. I think that's the model for us to get our football team prepared to play.
Q: the reason behind doing it that way?
Shell: That's what I know. That's what I'm accustomed to, and what I think will be successful for us.
Q: Could you have started earlier? Eagles started today.
Shell: I looked at the days that we had to get ready for the preseason game, to get ready, and I felt that this was the schedule I wanted to utilize. I felt this would give us enough work to get ready for the first preseason game, plus we've had a lot of work in the off-season, we probably worked harder than anybody this year during the offseason.
Q: Like the early game, or a distraction?
Shell: Some people, even in the past when I was head coach before, I've always liked the idea of having a fifth game. It gives us a chance to look at our players, especially our younger players, a lot longer, and give our players a chance to get a head start. I've always felt this was something that's good for our football team and I just like the idea of having a fifth game. It gives us a jump start.
Q: Do you practice with a set schedule like clockwork, or run things until you get them right?
Shell: We have a time frame that we want to get things done, and we will do that. But I want to make sure our players are doing things right. Some players like to coach off the tape. You do coach off the tape. But if something is being done on the field that you know is wrong, and the players understand it, then to me you need to take the time to go back and correct it right then and there and get it straight, and still work within the time frame that you have in your practice sessions. You don't want to utilize too much time, you want to stay within a two-hour time frame, that's what I believe.
Q: Relationship with Madden, how important is that weekend for you and him?
Shell: I am so happy for John. It's been a long time coming. John was a great coach, the youngest coach to get to 100 games (wins) in a 10-year period, an unbelievable job that he did. I am so excited, because, again, he's going in, and I remember, when he made it and I said, `Wouldn't it be nice to coach that game?' at the Hall of Fame. Then all of a sudden it came about. I'm excited about it. The organization is excited about it. The team is very excited about being there, playing the game, and a Raider going into the Hall of Fame.
Q: A No. 1 quarterback? Have one named? Is it Aaron Brooks?
Shell: Right now, Aaron Brooks is the guy. He's starting at the No. 1 spot, going in. But still, there's nothing etched in stone. We're still going to take a look at what we have, and by the time that we come out of training camp, and get ready for the first regular season game, we want to make sure we got the right guy in place. Right now, Aaron is going into camp as the guy. You've got to have somebody start out, so he's the guy who's starting out.
Q: Expect all quarterbacks to play a lot in the preseason?
Shell: We'll take a hard look at how we're going to utilize those guys. We want to give them a fair chance to play, and give them equal opportunity to excel, and I think we'll do that, based on playing the quarterbacks, and make sure they have a good chance to play with the No. 1 line, or the No. 2 line, and have a chance to be successful.
Q: Would those Raiders teams been great without Madden?
Shell: John Madden was a very integral part of that football team. His ability to coach that football team was just tremendous. I've said before, John had a great asset of understanding people. He understood that this is a people game. He allowed the players to be themselves. He had a good knowledge about what was going on offensively and defensively, as well as special teams, and the players loved playing for them. He made it fun for us while we were at training camp, and made it fun for us in the regular season, and all he asked was that we play like hell when it's time to play. We did that. But he allowed players to be themselves, away from the field, and on the field, to flourish. I don't think anybody could have done a better job than John Madden. It was the right time for John Madden to be the head coach of the Oakland Raiders.
Q: Work schedules, for Sapp and Curry?
Shell: As we move forward, talk to the trainers, Warren is supposed to be in pads, ready to go. Warren could have done more in the offseason. We wanted to make sure we take the time, to let him heal properly, make sure everything is OK, but Warren right now is full go as far as the trainers are concerned. We're still looking at Curry to see where he is and make sure he's capable of doing it. We'll listen to the trainers, they'll give us direction on that.
Q: How much time have you spent talking to Brooks, and where is he in his career?
Shell: What do you mean?
Q: He's changing teams for the first time, could be a difficult thing, particularly a quarterback. Do you sense this is a new start for him?
Shell: Just talking to him, he's excited in the system we have here. He's excited about what the capability of the system can allow him to do as far as being the quarterback, the freedom that it allows him to have, a protection scheme that's going to try and give him a chance to protect him and a chance to be successful. He's excited about this system. He's excited about being here with the players that we have, he's excited about the weapons that we have available for him to utlize, as are the other quarterbacks too. But he's looking forward to the year. So am I.
Q: Sum up the Tom Walsh system?
Shell: This is the Al Davis system. You've got to understand something. I grew up in this system. This is a system that allows us to attack from any place on the football field. Again, you've got to have the players to do that, and we feel we have the players to do that. This is a system that will allow you to play, and run the football with what we call power, where we're going to come downhill at you. We're going to attack the flanks. We're just going to run the football at you, then we're going to play-action, and strike from anywhere on the field. This system has been in place for years, and there are people that are still running this type of system. If you look at the Rams, when they won the Super Bowl, this is their system. You look at New England. They attack down the field. You look at Pittsburgh. They attack down the field and also run the football. This system is in football. It's here. It can be utlilized. No, it's not a West Coast offense, because we want to look down the field first before we come underneath.
Q: Comfortable with running game, and can it make this system work?
Shell: I don't care who the back is, you've got to have a the guy in front that can make it happen, and I think the line coaches have done a great job of getting our group prepared this offseason, and I think the players are receptive to the coaching of Irv Eatman and Jackie Slater, and they're excited about what we're doing, the techqniue that they have taught them, they're really receiving it well, I really think our running back is going to be happy with what we want to do. LaMont Jordan is an outstanding running back, and we've got some good young kids, in Justin Fargas, we've got some guys that can run the football. But it's the guys up front that have got to make it happen.
Q: Offensive line stand, who is where?
Shell: Right now, we've got Robert Gallery, starting at the left tackle spot, we've got Barry Sims at left guard. We've got Jake Grove at the center position. We've got Langston Walker at right tackle, and right now we're working McQuistan at the right guard spot.
Q: What do you like about Gallery on the left side?
Shell: I think it's a good fit. He played it for a number of years in college. I think he can be outstanding at it, and I think it's time for him to arrive as a Pro Bowl type player and he's really accepted it very well. He looks like a natural over there, as well as Langston at the right tackle spot. He's done well over there, learning what we want to teach them. The line is really working had. The whole group, working hard this offseason to make things happen, to do the right things, and be in the right spot to make things happen for our pass protection as well as rou running game.
Q: Take what other teams give you, Raiders take what they want? Is that what you believe?
Shell: Like I said before, I grew up in this system and that's the way it's always been. We believe in matchups. We're going to take our talent, and we're going to match our talent up against you. We don't want to be a team that's going to be sitting there back waiting for you to dictate what's going to happen. We're going to try to make things happen for us. It's going to take time to get that done, our players are understanding what we're trying to get done, but we don't want to be a passive team. We want to be an aggressive football team.
Q: Would be comfortable going into season with a rookie starting on the offensive line?
Shell: I wan the best football players out there. If it's a rookie that's going to play, look, in this league you can play with young guys if the guy has the talent. They're going to make some mistakes, but you can live with them if they make them aggressively. There are rookies starting every year on the offensive line, so I would feel comfortable if Paul McQuistan would continue to grow as a football player for us and continue to learn the nuances of pass protection and run blocking in this league. If he can do that, he'll have a chance to start for us.
Q: Is his aggressiveness what jumped out at you?
Shell: You saw that on the tape. When you studied him in college, you saw his aggressiveness son the tape, but then when he came here, all the things that we saw on film, we started seeing, of course we don't have pads on, but you saw it in the workouts and in the camps. He's a smart kid. We got some smart young kids on this football team, and he's one of the smarter kids on this team, so we look forward to him working hard, continuing his growth, and be a part of what we expect will be a pretty doggone good offensive line.
Q: How is your relationship with Jerry Porter right now?
Shell: I've got a good relationship with all my football players.
Q: There was some friction, it seemed, early on with Porter, do you feel you've ironed that out?
Shell: There's nothing to iron out. You sit down, you talk to players, during the course of the year, every year, there are coaches, head coaches in this league, who have discussions with players. Sometimes you don't see eye-to-eye. But eventually, you sit down, you talk, and you move forward. That's what I've done.
Q: With a healthy Moss and motivated Porter, what do you expect?
Shell: Both guys, there's a lot here within this system that they can really get out of.. With Moss being healthy, and I would expect he'll be healthy, he's a great football player, and he can make a lot of big plays for you. Just listening to Randy talk, he's excited about being a part of this system. He likes this system. He likes what we're trying to do with the passing game. Jerry Porter, Jerry was here at times during the course of the offseason and he likes what we're doing. If these guys stay healthy, the motivation will come because they all want to win. These guys are tired of losing, they want to be part of a winning program, and their work ethic this offseason has showed me that they're on board and they want to win. That's what we're here for and we'll work hard to get that done.
Q: Davis presenting ninth HOF member, why did you have him present you?
Shell: That was a natural, I think, for all the guys that selected him as their presenter. It was a natural, because he's such a great football man, his knowledge of the game, he's a great owner, the players are treated like men, they're treated to the best facilities that he possibly can find. Just like I went up to look at the facilities up in Napa. It's just phenomonenal what he does, he gives the players every opportunity to be comfortable, work hard, and want to win. For coaches, he give us the chance to get us the best players possible to give us a chance to win. So it was a natural for me. He is the organization. He is the Raiders organization, and it didn't take long for me to make that decision at all.
Q: You've seen everybody's eagerness but without pads. Now that you're starting in pads, what does that mean?
A: Well, physically I have seen it. Look, the work ethic this team put forth this offseason showed me that they want to win. I mean, these guys are committed to getting it done. An integral part of it is their quickness, their speed. That is there. Now the physicality of it, working in the pads and making it happen with the pads on, I don't think that is going to be a problem because they are committed to trying to get this thing turned the way it should be with the Raider organization back to the top.
Q: But don't they still have to show it to you?
A: Sure they have to show it. And they understand that. And they are excited. Just listening to them, they say we will be glad when we get to camp, coach. And I'll tell you what, listening to that kind of talk makes me feel good. Because they want to get it done. And it's the pads. When you get the pads on I am looking for people that are willing to attack, make contact and on a consistent basis. We want to be a tough football team and part of that is making physical contact. So I am looking forward to it
Q: Anything you missed about training camp; what kind of memories do you have?
A: Just being with the players. That is the biggest part of football as a coach and a player. When you are a player you are excited about being back to training camp, excited about being with your teammates ... of course after about three days you get pissed off at each other. But you are excited about being there.
As a coach just being there with them, watching them grow as players. You are teaching them and teaching them then all of a sudden they start doing it the right way, There is nothing like it. That is a great feeling
And we want to make sure we give our fans something to be proud of. We have some of the best fans in my mind in the world. And I say the world because when I worked with the national football league I had to go to Germany. I am over in Germany and they have raider fans all over there in Germany.
So I am excited about this football team. I am excited about giving the raider fans something to be proud of because they deserve it. And our players, with the way they worked this offseason, to get themselves ready to play this year ... we talked about putting the parts together. When we were doing the OTAs (organized team activities) it was like taking a car and trying to tune up a car. So we are putting the parts together in the OTAs. now we go into training camp and we've got to fine tune those parts and get them ready to go so when we get into the season they will go.
Q: Do Huff and Howard rank equal chances to start as rookies as McQuistan?
A: We will take a look at all these kids. If they have the ability to be starters in this league for us then they will play. I expect all of them will make an impact on this football team. We are looking forward to them working hard to be in the starting lineup or make a contribution.
Q: Your starting linebackers heading into camp?
A: Well right now we are working with the three linebackers in our system because we are a 4-3 team and we are going to utilize Williams, Morrison and right now, Howard is working at the right outside linebacker spot.
Q: So Morrison is in the middle?
A: yes, we are taking a look at him in the middle linebacker position, yes.
Q: So what is going on with Clark?
A: What is going on with Clark? Danny Clark is an integral part of this fb team. He is still part of this team. We are looking at players. Like I said before, nothing is etched in stone. We are taking a look at the players and see where we end up. We don't know where we'll end up right now for sure, we have a long ways to go thru training camp but hopefully we will have the best football players on this team when we open up the season
Q: What aspect are you most eager to get ironed out in training camp? Any fears or worries you haven't ironed out yet?
A: I don't have any fears or worries. We've put in our system offensively, defense and special teams, That's been great. There is nothing I am concerned about other than getting our team fine tuned with everything we have done to get our players prepared to play the game.
Q: Your starting defensive tackles are . . . ?
A: I feel very good about them. With Sapp and Sands and Tommy Kelly, those three guys working inside with some young people coming along I think we have a chance to have an outstanding group. Warren showed me in the minicamps that if he can stay healthy he is going to be an impact player for us and I am looking forward to it. Tommy Kelly is a very strong, big kid, has got quickness and speed and he has a chance to step forward and evolve as an outstanding player. We have several players at that position that should be able to step forward this year and make an impact.
Q: Will you cut back on some of Sapp's work so he stays healthy, give him an occasional afternoon off?
A: I don't know. We may do that. It depends on how we are working and how he is working. I don't know yet I don't like to go in with a preconceived idea that we are going to give this guy time off or that guy time off. As we go along we will adjust our schedules according to how we are doing with the injury factor and those types of things. If guys are coming along pretty good we won't do anything toput them in jeopardy of losing them. But we still have to get work done.
Q: Who is the No. 1 at left end, Hamilton, Brayton, a combo?
A: Burgess is our left end. He was our left end last year but we have a number of players we utilize at the position. We've got Burgess, Hamilton, Hundley, Brayton, Lance Johnstone. We have a number of guys we are going to take a look. It's not one guy who's going to play all the time. We're going to rotate our people. We're going to utilize our talents.
Q: Starting four in the secondary . . . is Huff penciled in as a starter?
A: He is not penciled in.
Q: Who is the starting four, then?
A: Right now you've got Schweigert, Gibson, Huff, Cooper, you've got all these guys working. But I don't say anybody is a starter. We're going to work them all. We'll come out of at the end of training camp with the starter.
Q: Your deal with Madden was as long as your play was up to your standards you didn't have to weigh in. What is your philosophy regarding players and their weight?
A: I've given most of them a weight to come into training camp as we went through the off-season you could see the weight coming down to get in the position I think they should be in. Again, I look at the weight along with the trainer and strength and conditioning coach. That all has to work hand in hand. I's the body fat that is the big problem. If the body fat is OK, then sometimes the weight can be up a little bit.
Now you said John and I had a deal. Yeah, we did have a deal. I didn't want to be concerned about worrying about a weigh-in. Then somebody would be draped around Ken Stabler on Sunday. But our players understand where they need to be weight wise and are all working to get there. I think we will be fine in that area.
Q: People thought you might bring in Grady Jackson. You didn't. Was it because of his weight?
A: Well, we have taken a look at a lot of people through the offseason we think can help our team. Was there discussion about Grady Jackson? Sure. Along with a lot of other people, too. Because you discuss somebody, as you know, doesn't mean you are going to pull the trigger on it. But he was part of a discussion. But we feel good about the guys that we have. We think we have some good young players that can step up and we're looking forward to that.
Q: How do you feel about scrimmaging other teams in training camp?
A: We won't do that (this year). Maybe down the road we might do that. We've done it in the past. We used to do it with the Cowboys and that was good work at that time. But right now I don't foresee that happening for us.
Q: Forty-one percent of teams are holding camp at their own facilities. Is it a philosophical thing for the Raiders to get away for training camp?
A: I'm a firm believer in getting away, bonding, working together away from here, getting that camaraderie going so that when we break camp we are ready to roll. I believe in getting away from here. I like that idea.
Q: Does this feel like home to you now?
A: It feels like home. I am excited about going to camp. I am excited about the players that we have here. I am excited about the young guys, the older guys we had from last year. I can't say enough about the work ethic they've had. I just love being around it. I look forward to that happening. There is a lot of work to be done. Strange things can happen in this league. We look forward to turning this thing around.
Q: A rebuilding year?
A: There is no rebuilding year. In the NFL you can turn things around in a hurry. There is plenty of talent on this football team. Youd on't have to worry, in my mind, about rebuilding. You've got to retool, you add to what you had. And we have done that. In this league, as you well know, one year you can be down and the next year you can be on top of the world. Why not us? We can do this. We just have to make sure we do the right things. We have to work at. You can't talk about getting it done. You have to go out and do it. So our work ethic in the offseason has been outstanding. If they continue to work good things can happen for you.
Q: Have you come up with a policy concerning the availability of assistant coaches for interviews?
A: Your assistant coaches will be available based on you guys getting a hold of Mike Taylor and letting him know exactly what you want to get done and he will bring it to me and we will take a look at it on an individual basis.
Q: Is that for the entire year, or just for training camp?
A: That's the policy for the rest of the year. The whole year. You guys contact Mike, then he contacts me and we will take a look at on an individual basis.
For complete coverage of the Raiders from training camp, be sure to read Jerry McDonald's blog Inside the Raiders.