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Allen adds seven assistants to Raiders staff

The Sports Xchange

The Oakland Raiders hired seven assistant coaches for head coach Dennis Allen's staff on Thursday, and three of them were on the Raiders' staff last season.

Also, the Raiders reportedly have requested permission to talk to Green Bay Packers cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt Jr. about the Raiders' defensive coordinator vacancy, the Oakland Tribune reported. Whitt Jr., 33, has been with the Packers for four years, and he worked with new Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie while at Green Bay.

The assistant coaches the Raiders hired on Thursday included former Houston assistant Frank Pollack to replace Bob Wylie as the team's offensive line coach.

Pollack had been the assistant offensive line coach for the Texans the past five years. They were second in the NFL in rushing last season with 153 yards rushing per game.

Pollack's hiring may indicate a change in scheme in the running game. The Texans relied on zone blocking schemes in their running game, while Wylie focused on power blocking.

The three coaches who were retained were running backs coach Kelly Skipper, assistant offensive line coach Steve Wisniewski and defensive quality control coach Eric Sanders.

Former fullback Justin Griffith was named the Raiders offensive quality control coach, and Al Miller is now the strength and conditioning coach, with John Greico serving as his assistant.

--Deposed Oakland coach Hue Jackson has learned the time just after a game is termed a "cooling off period" by league officials for a reason. Typically, Jackson told The Sports Xchange last week, he would use the period, which generally refers to the time between the end of a game and the opening of the locker room to the media, to take a shower, dress in street clothes, and gather his thoughts.

"But I skipped my own routine," Jackson told The Sports Xchange of the moments following the Raiders' season-ending 38-26 drubbing by San Diego on New Year's Day, a defeat that kept Oakland out of the playoffs. "I went right in and talked to the media, and we all saw what happened."

In an angry, rambling dissertation, Jackson lashed out at his team's lack of effort, came down hard on the performance and seemed to throw some players and assistants under the bus. That was hardly his intention, Jackson emphasized.

Jackson feels the perceptions created by the postgame actions may have cost him some assistant coaching opportunities the past few weeks. Nor was he making a power grab, as many have perceived about his remarks in which he suggested he wanted input into matters on the franchise's future.

Jackson said that assumptions he "made" the trade for quarterback Carson Palmer were incorrect, but acknowledged he favored the deal.

"But the trade was made," Jackson said, "by the organization, not Hue Jackson."

He noted that he knew, shortly into his initial meeting with new general manager Reggie McKenzie, that he would not be back in 2012. Jackson said McKenzie informed him early on that the organization was going in another direction, and that the belief by some that he might retain his job because both men share an agent (Kennard McGuire) was "just people trying to connect dots."

Said Jackson: "I knew of (McKenzie), but I really didn't know him at all."

Most notably, perhaps, Jackson told The Sports Xchange that he feels he would still be the Oakland coach had Al Davis not passed away.

"I think I understood him and he understood me," said Jackson, who said that the late owner "ran" the defense and counted on Jackson to oversee the offense.

--The Raiders have gone shopping within their own division for their new special teams coordinator, hiring Chiefs special teams coach Steve Hoffman on Friday.

Hoffman brings 22 years of NFL experience to Oakland, the last three in Kansas City, where he saw Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt average a career-best 45.9 yards per punt in 2011. His NFL experience started in Dallas, where he was part of three Super Bowl winners as the Cowboys' kicking coach and offensive/defensive quality control coach from 1989 to 2004. After 16 seasons with the Cowboys, Hoffman has spent the last six seasons with three different teams: the Falcons (2006), the Dolphins (2007-08) and Kansas City.

In addition to his work with kickers and punters, Hoffman has had success coaching coverage units. In his first year with Kansas City, the Chiefs' special teams jumped 17 spots in Dallas Morning News writer Rick Gosselin's comprehensive NFL special teams rankings, going from 29th in 2008 to 12th in 2009.

That experience will be welcome in Oakland, where the Raiders allowed an NFL-worst 13.5 yards per attempt on punt returns in 2011, largely negating the powerful punts of Shane Lechler, who averaged 50.8 yards per punt this past season. In addition, only five teams were worse than the Raiders on kickoff coverage, where opponents gained 25.7 yards per return.

Hoffman will work under Dennis Allen, who was introduced on Monday as the Raiders' new head coach, replacing Hue Jackson, who was fired last month. At 39 years of age, Allen is the youngest head coach in the NFL.

--Quarterback Carson Palmer has been silent since Reggie McKenzie fired Hue Jackson. Jackson orchestrated the trade that brought Palmer to Oakland and the two men have known each other since Jackson helped recruit Palmer to attend USC.

McKenzie and Allen said they both spoke to Palmer, and that the quarterback is on board with the new regime.

"Carson Palmer is extremely excited about what we have going here," Allen said. "He's looking forward to the future and he's excited about the opportunities here."

McKenzie said he and Palmer had spoken face to face.

Not surprisingly, it seems quarterback Jason Campbell, scheduled for unrestricted free agency, will play elsewhere.

McKenzie was non-committal when asked about Campbell.

--Mark Davis, in his first public speaking appearance since the death of his father on Oct. 8, said he has no intention of selling the franchise.

"There is no intention to sell the team," Davis said. "This is my life. I've been with the Raiders 48 years. And my whole thing is to continue the legacy that my father built here. I've got one of the largest extended families in the world -- all the former players and everybody that's been in the organization."

Davis, however, couldn't say for certain the team would remain in Oakland.

He called Santa Clara and a shared stadium with the 49ers a possibility, but said there had been no discussions with the 49ers toward that end. Basically, Davis said, anything is on the table.

"The time table is yesterday," Davis said. "We've got to get a new stadium. We've got to get that done. It's such a competitive business. We can't compete for a lot of the players other teams can, at times."

"My approach is old school. I'm a roll-up-the-sleeves type of guy, just wake up early like iron workers and come prepared to get the job done." -- Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie.

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.


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