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Antonio Allen Ready to Play at Corner

Posted Sep 2, 2014

Jets Safety Returns to Work from Concussion, Getting More Comfortable at CB

Antonio Allen has been cleared for full participation in practice after suffering a concussion in the Jets' third preseason game against the Giants. And Allen said after today's practice that he expects to start the season opener against Oakland on Sunday.

“I feel pretty good with my preparation,” said Allen, who wore a red no-contact jersey on Friday but didn't wear it today. “I went out there and had a decent day. I didn’t give up any deep balls, competed well, and hopefully I can do that in the game.”

Allen, a safety for the past two seasons, moved over to cornerback after injuries sidelined Dee Milliner and Dexter McDougle during training camp. In his first practice at his new position, he recorded two interceptions, showing signs of his potential.

The transition, he said, has been tough but his knowledge of the defense has helped ease him into this new role.

“Safeties know the defense and tell the corners what to do,” he said. “I pretty much have the scheme down as far as what the corners are supposed to do on every play. I’ve been doing pretty good.”

Allen joked during training camp that he never expected to be playing corner in the NFL. He was an outside linebacker at South Carolina in his freshman and sophomore years before moving to safety in his final two seasons as a Gamecock.

Switching positions is nothing new for Allen, but the biggest difference between playing safety and corner, he said, comes down to having a one-on-one mentality.

“I’m doing the right things — playing my keys, reading my assignments, aligning well," he said. "I’m just going out there and playing. Once you get out there, it’s mano a mano. You get no help.”

In addition to his first real test at cornerback against the Raiders on Sunday, he’ll also have to contend with an emphasis on defensive holding penalties — a hot topic of the NFL preseason. He said he’s been learning how to deal with that, but hopes his style of play as a safety doesn’t give opponents first downs.

“Keep my hands off the receivers and just play the ball,” he said of his approach. “Play with your eyes, hands and feet, you’re going to be in good position, and I plan on doing that. Hopefully I don’t get too many pass interference calls for being physical.”

It’ll be a process for Allen as he learns the ins and outs of the position when scores and stats are put into the record books. It’ll take time, he said, before he’s fully acclimated.

“Well, I wouldn’t say I’m quite comfortable, but I’m getting there,” he said. “I feel like I’m getting there.”

Something that might give Allen comfort is that he’s playing the Raiders — a team he found success against last year. He had a key blocked punt and touchdown recovery in the second quarter of that game, giving the Jets a 20-3 lead before halftime, and added four tackles.

While the Jets' cornerback position has been brought into question recently, Allen said his change is just another example of what’s required when injuries happen on a team.

“It’s been different,” he said of his summer. “We got cornerbacks going down, we have a lot of safeties, so mostly everybody will get to play. Guys have just got to fill in at other positions and be ready to play when your number is called.”




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