Keenan Allen stood on the practice fields following an early morning workout in front of a dozen or so media members flashing his trademark grin.
The star wideout admitted he isn’t quite at 100 percent as he works his way back from last year’s ACL injury.
But he’s darn close.
Allen projected himself to be at about “80 to 85” percent right now, which he says is right on track as he eyes his 2017 comeback. The wide receiver is a man on a mission, eager to put together the campaign he felt was his destiny in 2016.
It was exactly one year ago that KA13 eyed a comeback year as well after missing the final eight games of 2015 with a freak kidney injury. He understandably had high expectations after posting one of the best starts to a season of all time.
Allen’s 67 catches through eight games were the third most in NFL history. In fact, he was on pace for a 143-catch season, which would have shattered LaDainian Tomlinson’s team record of 100 set in 2003. The wide receiver also ranked third in the league with 725 receiving yards when he was lost for the year.
“It was tough to go out like I did,” Allen said at the start of last year’s offseason program, reflecting back on his 2015 campaign. “I had good things going on. It could have been an epic season. I’m excited to get going again. I’m excited to get back with Philip (Rivers) and pick up where we left off. We have unfinished business.”
Things were off to a perfect start in last year’s season opener as he totaled six catches for 63 yards with two minutes to go in the half.
Then disaster struck.
Allen fell to the ground with a knee injury, understandably emotional to be once again lost for the year. Now, still only 24 years old, KA13 is out to reclaim his place as one of the NFL’s top receivers.
“I’m just trying to be the best,” he said. “I’m trying to come back and get right back to where I left off. I’m trying to be top five (in the league) or whatever it is. I’m just trying to be the best.”
While his past two seasons ended on reserve-injured, they resulted in two completely different offseasons. Last year he simply had to rest and wait for his kidney to heal on his own. This year, he is hard at work rehabbing his knee as he once again eyes a comeback season.
“I feel amazing. I’m trying to keep up with Tyrell (Williams) because he keeps pushing the pace,” Allen joked after a morning run with his teammates. “I’m trying to keep up with the guys and stay with it. I’m feeling good….The toughest part (last year) was just watching them play every Sunday and not being able to do a thing about it. It was tough. I love being on the field. I love making plays. So just to get back out there with them is going to be fun.”
Top photos from Keenan Allen's sensational, yet injury shortered, season.