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  Phins.com Interview with DB Jason Allen
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by Chris Shashaty, Phins.com Columnist

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Since being drafted 16th overall in 2006 out of the University of Tennessee, DB Jason Allen has been under pressure to prove his potential as one of the game’s top defensive backs.


Unfortunately, it hasn’t been an easy road for Allen.


During his three seasons as a Dolphin, Allen has not enjoyed stability. He has had three different head coaches and played in two different defensive systems. He has flip-flopped between safety and cornerback on several occasions with the result that, at times, Allen has looked lost. Some have questioned his ability to grasp complex defensive concepts, though most seem to agree that his best position is cornerback, a position where Allen can best express his outstanding physical talents.


At 6-1, 200lbs., he is probably the most physically gifted defensive back on the team. Said Scouts Inc., “(Allen) possesses a very good combination of size, strength, speed and athleticism…He shows fluid hips for a taller DB and is smooth in his turns. He shows burst when breaking on the ball in front of him. He has long arms, good leaping ability. Is a great weapon to have vs. bigger receivers, especially in the red zone and on jump balls downfield.”


One perception of Allen is that he is a “gamer”…that is, an inconsistent practice player but a good game player. This has hurt Allen’s ability to get on the field consistently because coaches are hesitant to trust him. Still, when given the chance, Allen has shown a good nose for the football and has proven to be a willing tackler as well as a good special teamer.


Last season, Allen began to show flashes of the ability that originally impressed the scouts. He even started a couple of games and, for the most part, acquitted himself well. But Allen suffered a pair of setbacks in a home game versus the Patriots (11/23/2008) when he injured his hand and then was roasted by New England’s Randy Moss on several long pass attempts. Because of the injury, he was declared inactive the next game…the only game he has missed in three seasons as a pro. Thereafter, he was unable to reclaim his starting job.


Now entering his fourth season with the team, some are questioning whether or not he is going to be a part of the 2009 Miami Dolphins. There are rumors that he may even be traded.


I interviewed Jason Allen at the Dolphins Training Facility in Davie, Florida to get his take on his progress and experiences as a NFL player, as well as his expectations for the future.


On the keys to his improved understanding of the game since his rookie season

Most everything has been due to hard work. Hard work always pays off, and maturity has something to do with growing, learning to be a student of the game. And studying (more). Coach (Todd) Bowles does an excellent job working with us and making sure we are prepared every week.


On if he feels he’s stronger, physically, since college (Tennessee)

As far as my weight and strength, everything is about the same. I may have been actually a little bit stronger in college cause I lifted more and I probably ran a little bit more. In the NFL, you can’t lift as much because of how long the season is. I have to be a little wiser with the amount of time I put in, (and) watching (more) film and studying and being prepared.


On who is the toughest player he has covered thus far

That’s a good question. Probably Randy Moss. He’s a deep threat each and every play. He has deceptive speed; he’s a long strider. He can come off the ball slow and then take off full speed. If you relax one bit, he’s going to beat you. We saw (in 2007) the kind of numbers he put up. You definitely have to respect that.


On if he thinks he’s the answer to the team’s need at CB, especially versus big, physical receivers

Hopefully I am. They say “know your competition, know who you’re going against”. That’s the biggest thing. Know what they like to do and have something to counter it. You’ve got big wide receivers like Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, and Randy Moss. They’re pretty fast, too, but you have to know what they like to do and have something to counter it.


On if he feels better suited to play cornerback or safety

I think I have assets for both of them. I just depends on the defensive scheme, (and) where we need help at. I feel like I can play either one of them. I just enjoy being on the field, making plays. At corner, you rely on your natural ability and technique at the same time; you’re on an island by yourself, just you and the wide receiver. At safety, there’s a little bit more thinking. You’re (also) playing the run a lot more.

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