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Oakland Raiders coach Dennis Allen defines an ideal Raider

  • By NFL.com
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In the post-Al Davis era, new head coach Dennis Allen and general manager Reggie McKenzie are attempting to find players who embody what it means to be an Oakland Raider.

"If there's one guy that I was around that I think exemplifies what we're looking for in an Oakland Raider, it would be Drew Brees," Allen told the Contra Costa Times in an exclusive interview.

"When you look at his height, weight, speed, it might not be the most impressive. But what the guy is, he's a tough, smart, competitive, instinctive football player.

The Raiders' model of the past was perceived as being almost entirely about speed, height and weight with less of an emphasis on team chemistry or players' off-field behavior -- or so it seemed.

"Here's what's struck me about this team a little bit -- you kind of have had the picture of the outlaw, renegade Raiders," Allen said, "and that's not the case.

"These are guys that come to work; they're family men and they come and they do their job. And that's what you expect," he said, adding that it's been a "smoother process" than he anticipated.

As McKenzie and Allen have said their Raiders put a high value on high character, including religious faith.

"We're not looking for a team full of choir boys," Allen said. "But we are looking for guys that are going to be dependable on the field and that we can also depend on off the field ... I think that kind of goes hand in hand. Usually, guys of good character, there's a faith-based background to the way they were brought up."

Allen also said that quarterback Matt Leinart, whom the Raiders signed this week, will serve as a veteran sounding board for former University of Southern California teammate Carson Palmer. Leinart will also aid the development of Terrelle Pryor. Allen said the move doesn't mean they are giving up on Pryor, who will compete with Leinart for the No. 2 spot.

"He has all kinds of talent," Allen said of Pryor. "He's not there from a mental standpoint, from a fundamental standpoint, which is true of 99 percent of the young quarterbacks that come into this league."

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