(CBSLA)- The Los Angeles Chargers begin their 2021 campaign next Sunday, September 12 against the Washington Football team with optimism in the air around the team. New head coach Brandon Staley seems ready to take advantage of the defensive talent after turning the Rams defense into a nightmare for opponents last season. Quarterback Justin Herbert flashed nearly unlimited potential as a rookie, taking home AFC Rookie of the Year honors.
While the focus has been on what Herbert can do in Year 2 and what the defense will look like under Staley's scheme, wide receiver Keenan Allen continues to fly a bit under the radar. NFL on CBS and Inside The NFL analyst Phil Simms says that the main reason for that is the lack of playoff exposure.
"He has to be on a playoff team. That's how these guys become stars. They're on good teams on primetime games and in the playoffs that's when we really learn about the greatness of some of these guys. There's a lot of guys who get overlooked because they're not on winning teams consistently," Simms said on a conference call.
That's a fair point from Simms as the Chargers have only made the playoffs twice since Allen was selected with the 76th overall pick in the 2013 Draft. In each of those appearances, they bowed out in the Divisional Round though that's no fault of Allen's who has 14 receptions for 275 yards and three touchdowns in four postseason games.
Though he may not get talked about as much as you'd expect, he clearly has the respect of former receivers and Simms' fellow Inside The NFL analysts, Julian Edelman and Brandon Marshall. Edelman points to Allen's releases at the line of scrimmage as something that he watched to learn from when he was playing.
"I think his craftiness at the line of scrimmage is second to none. If you watch his release game and the top of his routes, he's got that basketball crossover-ness that guys do. The shimmy with the shoulders and great feet with how long and lanky he is. I think that's one of his biggest strengths," Edelman said. "The thing that separates him the most is the line of scrimmage play with him and the top of his routes. You don't see elite speed from him. He's a fast guy but he's not Tyreek Hill out there. It's his route running ability and his length that stands out to me."
Marshall agrees, going one step further to call what Allen does "teach tape" meaning that young players looking to improve their skills should watch cut ups of how Allen runs routes and releases from the line of scrimmage.
"Keenan Allen does it all, from his releases at the line of scrimmage to what he does in the run game, to back to the pass game as Jules said, his stems, the top of his routes, his savviness and toughness," Marshall said.
After coming up just shy of 1,00 yards last season (992), Allen will be looking to get back in the 1K club working with Herbert in his second year at the helm.
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