The former Cal bear and current San Diego Charger wideout Keenan Allen has become the new go-to receiver for Phillip Rivers. After missing the first game of the season against the Houston Texans with a knee injury sustained during his last year at Cal, he has come into his own over the last couple weeks. With some devastating injuries to the receiving corps (both Danario Alexander and Malcom Floyd are on the injured reserve), Allen is now the starter.
The third round pick in this past draft had only three receptions in the first two games of his career, and was not getting any separation from defenders, still possibly feeling affects from the knee injury. However, over the past couple games, Allen has been the best Chargers receiver. In the game against Dallas, he had 5 catches on 6 targets for 80 yards. Just this past week against Oakland, he had his best game of his young career snatching 6 catches for 115 yards and hauling in his first NFL touchdown.
Allen doesn’t have blazing speed but is a great route runner that allows him to get open quickly and helps Rivers get the ball out of his hand fast. He also is excellent after the catch and can make guys miss; he’s got more moves than John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever (seriously check it out, it’s the stuff of legends). This lets him become a threat even on shorter routes and patterns across the middle. In space, he is a nightmare to wrap up and he has great instincts for finding the end zone. He was seventh in school history at Cal with 17 touchdowns.
He is a serious threat in the red zone for Rivers and the Chargers’ offense. His quick moves off the line and precise route running will allow him to get early separation from defenders. He also has the athletic ability to go up and get jump balls over defenders, as he did on a 31-yard catch against Dallas Cowboys corner Morris Claiborne. That play didn’t go for a touchdown, but he obviously showed his ability to sky and make plays.
It’s safe to say Allen is looking completely healthy and with the increased playing time due to some unfortunate injuries, he’s got a chance to have a standout rookie season. With Phillip Rivers playing at a high level again, we could see some huge numbers for Allen the rest of the season.
I’m hoping he will show up it what should be a shootout against the Colts. Going into the Monday Night game against the Indianapolis, he has 14 receptions for 225 yards and a touchdown.
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