For the first half of the 2015 NFL season Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen was not just the most dangerous threat in the San Diego offense; he was arguably the most productive pass catcher in the entire NFL.
Then he leapt to make a TD grab against the Ravens on November 1 and had a couple of defenders fall on him the wrong way. Allen suffered a lacerated kidney and was gone for the season. Still, he had 725 yards and four touchdowns in just seven and a half games. That put him just 30 yards behind Danny Woodhead as the Bolts leader FOR THE ENTIRE SEASON.
On Monday the Chargers held their first Organized Team Activities (OTA) of the new year at their Murphy Canyon training facility and Allen was back on the field running, giving himself a clean bill of health.
“I feel good,” said Allen, not wanting to expand too much. Keenan was on the field practicing and reports no physical limitations from that injury in Baltimore.
Allen had a fantastic rookie season followed by a sophomore slump. But going in to Year 3 he rededicated himself to fitness and attention to details and made those same kinds of goal again in 2016.
“I don’t have anything that’s not obvious. My weight; I want to cut down some more, more than I did last year. Be technique sound again, focus on the details again.”
“Play faster, be more in shape,” said Allen, who is also changing his diet and workout regimen to stave off fatigue. If Allen has anything to say about his success last year was merely a (healthy, of course) appetizer.
“Knowing that I did it, knowing that I can dominate the league is definitely motivation for me so hopefully I can keep it going.”
Perhaps it’s not so much motivation as it is confirmation that Keenan Allen can be an All-Pro wide receiver. Now he has a burner like Travis Benjamin on the other side, a guy who can stretch a defense that the Bolts have not had in several years. While Benjamin will get his share of balls, his presence should only help open things underneath for Allen, a guy who excels at getting open at the snap.
“It’s major,” said Allen. “Being able to take the top off, being able to be a threat for the safety so he can’t drive on under-route stuff as much. We’ll see how it goes.”
When he said that, Allen smiled a sly smile. The kind of smile that you get from someone who knows something you don’t know and is really excited about it.
Oh, and don't forget this is the final year of his rookie contract. If that's not motivation enough to put up monster numbers I don't know what is.