Raiders get prime-time opening in 2012
AP Sports Writer
ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) – Coach Dennis Allen will get a prime-time stage to the start of his tenure with the Oakland Raiders.
The Raiders will once again open the season in the back end of a Monday night doubleheader on Sept. 10 at home against San Diego. This marks the fourth time in five years that Oakland has opened in the late Monday night game.
“I’m excited about it. You grow up watching Monday Night Football and the theme song,” Allen said Tuesday. “We’re excited about getting to open up the new era of Raider football both in the preseason on Monday night and in the regular season.”
The NFL released the 2012 schedule on Tuesday, the same day Allen held his first voluntary minicamp since taking over as Raiders coach from the fired Hue Jackson in January.
Many of the players had already been at the facility the past two weeks for voluntary offseason conditioning, but this was the first time Allen and his coaching staff could get them out on the field.
“We’re using this as an opportunity to really install a core base offense, defense and special teams,” he said. “Really just get a chance to let the guys go through the motions of breaking a huddle lining up in a formation, lining up in a defense, lining up in a punt team formation and allow them to get a feel for what we’re going to do and how they’re going to be asked to do it.”
This is the first chance for the staff to get a firsthand look at their new players. General manager Reggie McKenzie said last week this would be a particularly important three-day test for second-year quarterback Terrelle Pryor.
The Raiders used a 2012 third-round pick to take Pryor in the supplemental draft last August but never got a chance to see what the former Ohio State star could do. He signed too late to play in the preseason and got on the field just once in the regular season, committing a false start on his only play.
“What I want to see is that every day he gets a little bit better,” Allen said. “That’s what we’re looking for with all of our players. None of us are where we need to be right now.”
One encouraging sign was that star running back Darren McFadden was able to participate. McFadden missed the final nine games last season with a sprained right foot and never got a chance to play with new quarterback Carson Palmer, who made his debut with the Raiders later in the game that McFadden hurt his foot.
McFadden ran for 614 yards and scored five touchdowns in seven games last season. He had a big season in 2010 when he gained 1,664 yards from scrimmage and scored 10 touchdowns but has missed 19 games in four seasons because of various injuries.
“He’s one of our most explosive players on offense,” Allen said. “He’s a dangerous weapon. We’re looking forward to finding different ways of using him and kind of exploiting his talents.”
Allen hopes to have a healthy McFadden for the entire season. Other highlights of the schedule include a Thursday night home game against Denver on Dec. 6. That comes in the middle of a three-game homestand to start December, with games also against Cleveland and Kansas City.
The Raiders end the season with their only back-to-back road games, making trips to Carolina and San Diego. They also have road games surrounding their Oct. 7 bye, going to Denver before the week off and Atlanta the following week.
The trip to Atlanta is one of five to the Eastern time zone, the most the Raiders have ever made in a regular season, including a Week 2 trip to Miami.
Oakland also hosts Pittsburgh on Sept. 23 and travels to Cincinnati Nov. 25, where Jackson returned as an assistant after being fired by the Raiders.