Last year, Chargers receiver Keenan Allen made an unlikely impact on the NFL as a rookie. This year, Allen is even faster.
As explained by Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego, Allen recently blew by cornerback Shareece Wright — and then gained the kind of separation Allen wouldn’t have been able to establish a year ago.
“I’m a deep threat now,” Allen said.
In a quest to be “the best in the league,” Allen also has gained six pounds and trained with speed coach Ryan Flaherty, which gives Allen more speed when making cuts and when running in a straight line.
“It just makes him a more powerful threat when he’s that good at the line and has speed behind it,” Wright said. “A lot of times, he will win at the line, but when you’ve got recovery speed, you can make up for that. Now that he’s faster, it’s not going to be as easy to make up once you lose at the line. He’s going to be open on more of his routes.”
“He always was a great route runner,” Rivers said. “There just seems to be a little more juice.” (Perhaps not the ideal word, given the weight gain.)
Last year’s 1,000-yard season came, as Gehlken points out, largely from intermediate routes. This year, Allen may be able to crank it up even deeper, which could in turn help open up the rest of the offense as opponents spend more time focusing on him.
Allen has a long way to go to be the best receiver in the league, but he performed better than most first-year wideouts do. Year two could be even better.