Keenan Allen started Chargers Camp slowly, disappointed by his rusty performance on day one. He made strides over the next few practices, showing flashes of his old self as he returns from an ACL injury.
Then he sat.
Head Coach Anthony Lynn explained how the wide receiver was dealing with some soreness, so the team kept him on the sideline for a handful of practices entering the second week of camp. As Lynn noted, from the moment he's returned, KA13 looks like his old self.
"I'm getting my groove back," Allen agreed. "I'm feeling comfortable right now. The game and the speed is coming back to me."
Never was that more evident than Thursday in the team's joint practice against the New Orleans Saints.
Allen had his best practice of the summer, making a variety of catches to bring the fans to their feet. There was the one-handed snare during seven-on-seven drills, defying the odds to come up with a ridiculous catch. Then there were the bevvy of touchdowns during team drills, highlighted by him using his strength to rip the rock away from the cornerback on a jump ball.
Even though he's encouraged by the strides he's taken, Allen knows he has a long way to go before he's held in the same regard he once was around the league. Asked how he's viewed by his peers these days, KA13 simply shrugs.
"I have no clue. It's been a while since they've seen me. I'm not sure."
So what did the name Keenan Allen mean two years ago before his pair of unfortunate injuries?
"A dog. Beast. Monster."
Earning that type of reputation again is what drives Allen on a daily basis.
"I'm telling you; give me 16 (games) and I'll be the best in the league. And that goes for our offense. We have so many weapons, like you saw today. Everybody is capable of making plays. Give us 16 of these, and it's going to be hard to stop us."
Allen's game is all about confidence. When he's in a groove, there are few capable of containing the crafty wideout. He totaled the most catches by a Chargers wide receiver in team history to open the 2015 campaign, notching 15 against the Detroit Lions. A few weeks later, he caught 14 passes through three quarters of action against the Green Bay Packers, set to destroy his own record before missing the last 15 minutes with a hip ailment.
"Like I've said for a while, I feel like once I get one catch, it's time to go. No one can stop me after I get that once catch. The first one gets me in a groove, and I go from there."
KA13 was on one of those rolls Thursday, which is why Philip Rivers looked in his direction early and often. Yet while he's pleased with the progress he's made, Allen only has one goal in mind for the rest of the summer.
"Honestly, I don't care about my stats in the preseason. I just want to stay healthy and make it to the season. Now, I'm not trying to put any bad tape out there! I'm competing. I love competition. But to me, it's about being healthy to start the season."