Top photos from Keenan Allen's sensational, yet injury shortered, season.
Over the coming days, we'll highlight a few notable Chargers with their 2016 Media Guide profile. Up next is wide receiver Keenan Allen.
Heading into his fourth NFL season, Keenan Allen is well on his way to becoming one of the league's elite receivers. In June, the Chargers made sure Allen would continue to do so in San Diego when the team and he agreed to a four-year contract extension.
Allen was off to a record-breaking start in 2015 before suffering a season-ending injury on a touchdown catch in Baltimore. In seven and a half games, Allen had racked up 67 catches, tied for third in NFL history at the mid-point of a season. But on Nov. 1 against the Ravens, he suffered a kidney injury when landing hard between two defenders on a 13-yard touchdown catch late in the second quarter. He was placed on "Reserve-Injured" just a few days later.
For Allen, it was a premature end to a season that appeared to show no bounds. In the Bolts' 2015 season opener against Detroit, Allen had 15 catches, tying the franchise's single-game record. Two weeks later, he caught a dozen passes, including two touchdowns, in a game at Minnesota. And then three weeks later, he caught 14 passes at Green Bay's Lambeau Field to become the first player in NFL history with at least 12 catches in three of his team's first six games of a season.
Allen finished the season with 67 catches, 725 yards and four scores and even though he played less than half a season, teammates paid tribute to Allen by choosing him as the team's offensive player of the year.
Allen's breakthrough season in 2015 didn't come as a surprise to those close to the young wide receiver. After an inconsistent 2014, Allen made a commitment to improve his overall conditioning. He completely revised his diet and improved his training methods. Allen also likes to wear a heavy sweatshirt under his pads when he practices because when he removes it on game days, he feels lighter and faster.
A third-round draft pick in 2013, Allen took the NFL by storm that season, earning NFL Rookie of the Year and NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors from multiple organizations. In his second season, Allen had another outstanding year, leading the team with 77 catches, good for 783 yards and four scores.
Looking back, as unfathomable as it might sound, Allen's NFL career almost never materialized.
A projected first-round pick out of Cal-Berkeley, Allen's pre-draft stock fell as the result of a knee injury late in his senior season. The Chargers snagged Allen in the third round, but during his first few months in San Diego, the coaching staff limited his reps to make sure that he was fully recovered from the knee injury. Allen also found himself stacked behind a talented group of veteran wide receivers. At one point during training camp, he began questioning himself and his position with the team. He considered walking away to continue his education at Cal and pursue a career in his other field of dreams: music. Ultimately, some tough talk and motherly advice from his mom, Doris, convinced Allen to stick with football. Around the same time he was struggling with his future, returning starter Danario Alexander went down with a knee injury and suddenly Allen found himself receiving more reps with the offense. Then in the Chargers' second game of the season in Philadelphia, Malcom Floyd suffered a season-ending neck injury. With Floyd out, Allen's number was called. And on just his second play, Allen caught an 18-yard pass on a 3rd-and-8 play that ignited a touchdown drive and a season that would end with Allen being celebrated center stage as the Pepsi Next NFL Rookie of the Year at New York City's Radio City Music Hall.
Allen went on to lead the team and set franchise rookie receiving records with 1,046 yards and 71 catches. He led all NFL rookies in catches, yards and touchdowns (eight), topping the 1,000-yard plateau during the Bolts' regular-season finale. He was just the fifth rookie since 2000 to rack up over 1,000 yards. In three games late in the season, Allen caught five touchdown passes, the most by a Chargers wide receiver in three games since 1996. It included an impressive two-game stretch in the course of five days when he caught two touchdowns against the New York Giants on Dec. 8 and two more at Denver on Dec. 12. Twice in 2013, Allen racked up more than 100 yards in back-to-back games, a feat that hadn't been achieved by a Chargers rookie since 1960.
Allen's outstanding play continued into the postseason as he led the team with eight catches for 163 yards and two touchdowns. It included a 142-yard, two-touchdown performance in the divisional playoffs at Denver. It was the Chargers' second-most receiving yards in a playoff game and the team's first two-touchdown game in the playoffs since Jan. 1983 (Kellen Winslow). Allen's yardage total tied for the second-most by a rookie in a playoff game in NFL history (Keith Jackson, Philadelphia) and he became the league's first rookie since New England's Julian Edelman in Jan. 2010 with two touchdown catches in a postseason game.
Long before the 2013 NFL Draft, Allen was a player coveted by Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco. In 2011, Telesco attended Cal's game against USC at San Francisco's AT&T Park and he noted that Allen really stood out on a field that was loaded with great players. Allen enjoyed one of the most prolific days of his career that evening against the Trojans, catching a career-best 13 passes for 160 yards.
Allen left Cal after his junior season having caught a school-record 205 career passes. Half-brother, Zach Maynard, was his quarterback all three years at Cal. Maynard originally enrolled at the University of Buffalo, but transferred to Cal so that he and Allen could be teammates. In 2011, they combined for the longest pass play in school history, a 90-yard score against the Washington Huskies.
One of Allen's closest friends is Cincinnati Bengals' receiver Marvin Jones. They became teammates at Cal after Jones hosted Allen during his recruiting visit.
Another of Allen's passions beyond football and music is basketball. The Greensboro, North Carolina native grew up in the heart of Tobacco Road. This year, he sponsored a 13-and-under AAU team in San Diego called the Slayers.
TRANSACTION HISTORY:Third-round pick (76), April 26, 2013...signed four-year contract May 13...agreed to four-year contract extension, June 10, 2016.