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Keenan Allen Adapting to Pro Game

Posted Jul 28, 2013

Rookie wide receiver Keenan Allen is working hard to make an impact in the NFL.

Smooth.

Asked to describe himself, Keenan Allen uttered that single word with a confident smile.

Thus far, it appears he knows how to evaluate talent.  Smooth certainly describes the rookie third-round pick whether it’s the manner the wideout plucks the ball out of the air or the way he runs his routes. 

Photo Gallery: Keenan Allen at Training Camp | Day Four of Training Camp | More Photos

“I take pride in the way I run out there,” he said. “In college I really worked hard at it, trying to be smooth and at the end being abrupt.  It really is just trying to do whatever you can to make every route look the same to the defender and keep him off balance.  That’s why I think it’s important to be smooth.”

Allen declared for the NFL draft following his junior year at Cal.  He finished his career with a school-record 205 catches for 2,570 yards (third in school history) and 17 touchdowns (seventh). It included a career-high 98 catches for 1,343 yards as a sophomore in 2011. Unfortunately, his final season was cut short due to a knee injury, but that appears to be in the past.

“My leg feels fine,” he said.  “I’m not having any problems with it.  It seems to be doing what I’m asking of it, and that’s all I can really ask for.”

With a couple wide receivers held out of practice, Allen has been able to get more reps, and according to head coach Mike McCoy, he’s taking advantage of that opportunity.

“We’re going to hold certain guys out of practice and give certain players a day off here and there,” said McCoy. “And it’s an opportunity for young guys to step it up and he’s done that the last two days when guys have gone down. He’s kind of stepped in there and gotten a lot of opportunities.  He was in there obviously with Philip (Rivers) a little bit.”

Allen emphasized how he’s enjoying getting those chances to build a rapport with his quarterback.

“He throws an amazing ball,” he said. “The guy is great.  He’s an accurate passer.  He’s the most accurate passer I’ve ever been with.  Obviously he’s a smart guy.  He knows all the coverages.  He knows all the plays.  He puts you in the right place. He’s a great guy.”

Many fans rejoiced when the Chargers selected Allen in the third round as the majority of pundits gave him a late-first, early-second round grade.  It is widely assumed that his aforementioned injury caused him to drop, and those attending practice have cheered him on as he has made a few highlight reel plays each day. 

“It’s been fun to go over there after practice and sign autographs and to hear them cheer,” he said. “It feels great to have a fan base like this behind me, to have my back and be with me for this experience.”

Nonetheless, Allen knows he has a long way to go before he gets to where he wants to be.

“I feel like I’m doing pretty well, but I’m working to get better,” he said after he was the last person to leave the field after practice. “I still have a lot I can do better on, a lot of fundamentals and technique things.  There are little details I need to pick up on.  I mean, it may look good from the sidelines, but in the film room, the truth comes out.”

Allen’s work ethic is just another reason why McCoy is pleased with his progress.  The head coach cautions that while he is adapting well thus far, he still has a lot of work to put in, but that the great thing about Allen is that he wants to put in the necessary effort.

“Like every other young players he’s got a lot to learn,” he said.  “He’s got a long ways to go and he’ll be the first one to tell you that.  But he’s buying into what (Wide Receivers Coach) Fred Graves is coaching him to do. There are a lot of new little wrinkles. We’re building from what we did in the offseason and we’re throwing a lot more at them, so it’s a matter of him learning the way to do it.  And then listening to the quarterback and little adjustments he wants to make. He’s got a ways to go, but he’s doing a nice job.  He’s competing.  That’s the most important thing.  He’s learning how we want to practice.  We’re competing every day.”

To watch Allen and judge for yourself just how smooth he is, come out to an open training camp date.  Here is a complete schedule.

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