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“I think that Jason has been a really good surprise right now,” said Head Coach Tony Sparano, who applauded Nolan’s decision to move Allen back to cornerback. “Sometimes it takes a little longer for a few guys just for the light to completely go on, but I’ve seen this guy getting better and I’ve said that. I don’t know if he’s all the way there yet or he’s not all the way there yet but I do know that if I were judging on contested balls in this training camp right now, I would have to think that he has the most.
Sparano explained that Allen’s size is a much better fit on the outside lining up against bigger receivers as opposed to trying to cover the smaller, quicker guys like Davone Bess or New England’s Wes Welker over the middle. His straight away speed and long arms make it tougher on receivers like Randy Moss or Terrell Owens to break free and provide a clear target for their quarterback.
“In a sense I think it’s night and day,” Allen said. “I feel like I’m playing a lot more confident. I feel like I’m going out there more prepared. I feel like I’m going out there more relaxed and I’m making more plays. This is a defense where you literally have to take it as everybody has to be on the same page. You have to do your job and be accountable. Everybody has to be on the same page and everybody has to be doing there job to make this defense work, and I think we’re starting to jell together as a defensive unit.”
Since veteran Will Allen had a setback with the knee he injured early last year, Allen has tried to get the inside track on that starting nickel corner position. He is in a heated battle with rookie Nolan Carroll, a fifth-round pick out of Clemson who was more unheralded than Allen was when he was a rookie. Whatever happens, Allen knows he is in control of the outcome – and everybody will be watching.
“He’s had his hands on a ton of footballs right now, really mentally has done a really good job out there for what we’ve asked him to do,” Sparano said. “Athletically, that’s never been the case with Jason; he’s had a really good skill set, but we did bounce him from safety to corner. That skill set is a little different; those fundamentals are a little different. I think those things he’s starting to figure out now and then the mental part of it is a little different.”