METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Dennis Allen didn't get a chance to match wits against his former boss when New Orleans visited Oakland last season.
Sean Payton's season-long bounty suspension wiped that out, so Allen will have to settle for a preseason date Friday night against the coach and franchise he helped to win the Super Bowl title in the 2009 season.
Allen was a defensive assistant for Payton's first five seasons in New Orleans. He saw firsthand how Payton arrived amid Hurricane Katrina's devastation and turned a moribund franchise into a playoff regular.
"Sean's a heck of a football coach. I've learned a lot from him just as far as how he handles a football team, what his demeanor is and the swagger that he brings to his team," Allen said this week as he prepared the Raiders for Friday night's game in the Superdome. "You'll see a different New Orleans Saints football team this year with having him back. That's where I feel like, in New Orleans, in those five years, that's where I feel like I really grew up as a football coach in the National Football League.
"It'll be fun to go back," Allen added. "It'll be fun to get a chance to see some of those guys. I'll get to talk to Sean and bounce a few ideas off of him and see what he has to say."
Allen also got to coach against Payton's prolific offense in practice, working first with the defensive line and then with the secondary before leaving to become Denver's defensive coordinator for the 2011 season.
In terms of offensive play design and play-calling, Allen sees Payton "up there at the top of the league. That's for sure."
He said the Saints "present a lot of challenges offensively in the way that they match up their personnel, their tempo on offense, the things that they do in the running game and in the passing game. So it'll be a great test for us."
Allen was a quality control coach in Atlanta when Payton was hired for his first head coaching job in New Orleans.
Payton said he had heard "a lot of good things" about Allen from coaches he knew, and decided to offer Allen a chance to work with the defensive line. Soon after, he was promoted to head secondary coach.