SAN DIEGO (AP) — Keenan Allen really did think about quitting last summer.
“It was just a thought,” the San Diego Chargers’ top wide receiver said. “But it was tough.”
Allen was referring to his initial training camp, when the third-round pick from California could do little right. He heard often from coach Mike McCoy, and it was mostly for what Allen wasn’t doing.
His mistakes compounded, he didn’t play in the season opener and Allen considered ending an NFL career before it really got started.
“Last year I wasn’t real comfortable in camp,” Allen said. “It was tough getting over to the coach’s good side. Being a rookie, he was just talking down to you every time but that was just part of the game. But the plays didn’t feel comfortable and it was hard to get the terminology down.”
Allen rebounded and compiled one of the most impressive rookie seasons in Chargers history. He set franchise rookie marks in receptions (71) and receiving yards (a team-high 1,046). He led all NFL rookies in catches, yards and touchdown receptions (eight).
McCoy’s tough love paid off.
“It took him some time last year to get adjusted to the pro game and practice the way he should with the talent he has,” McCoy said after Saturday’s workout.
Now Allen is a big cog in the Chargers’ offense.
“I had a good year last year,” Allen said. “And I’m going to get a lot of attention this year. But with Malcom (Floyd) over there, teams aren’t going to be able to double-team me.”
When Floyd suffered a sprained neck Sept. 15 at Philadelphia, that opened the door for the 6-foot-2, 211-pound Allen. He responded in a way few thought possible after an uneven training camp and mediocre showings in preseason games.
“Ever since the Philadelphia game he hasn’t skipped a beat,” McCoy said.
With Floyd sidelined, Allen’s role quickly expanded.
“He is sort of like a veteran now because he was thrown into the fire last year,” Floyd said.
Floyd’s return takes some pressure off Allen. However, Allen is now known commodity, unlike last year when he battled for early season snaps and quarterback Philip Rivers’ attention.
“I just want to come out, get better every day and don’t take any step backward,” Allen said. “Just stay consistent and keep building that chemistry with Philip.”
Allen is focusing on his burst and said he’s added a few pounds as well,
“I really attacked my speed this offseason and I’m just trying to get quicker off the ball,” Allen said. “I want to be a deep threat. … I just want to build off last year, and be the best I can be.”
A career which nearly derailed appears to be on the right track.
“He’s gotten better every day,” McCoy said. “And when I say that I go back to last year at training camp.”
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