The book on free safety Nate Allen coming out of South Florida was that he was a very good athlete with tremendous range. Usually, a top-tier athlete in the secondary would be at the cornerback position. But in the way that the NFL has changed, safety is not just the last line of defense anymore.
Allen entered training camp as the starter at free safety and his performance to date has impressed the team's defensive coordinator.
"If you watch Nate move, he really is quite smooth for a safety that is 210 pounds," Sean McDermott said of the 6-1 Allen. "He just seems to handle things like that off the field, as well. Like I mentioned earlier in camp, he's very mature for a guy that's in his rookie season, and playing that position, the quarterback of the defense, or one of the quarterbacks of the defense, he's really handled himself quite well to this point."
But you can't just place an athlete in the backfield either. He's got to be able to bring down the ball carrier when needed.
"I think he's held his own to this point," McDermott said. "I don't see any reason to believe he wouldn't be a very good tackler for us. Anything above that is yet to be seen in terms of his intensity once we get into game situations here."
Allen caught the eye of his partner in the secondary, Quintin Mikell, when he took down running back Mike Bell on the first day of live hitting.
At South Florida, Allen finished his career with 224 tackles, nine picks, one sack and three forced fumbles.
The toughest part, Allen said, to this point has been "the mental part."
"Just learning to get all the plays down and just taking it all in and processing everything," Allen said. "It's fast. It's a new level. There's no comparison coming from college. It's fun, it's a lot of fun. It's been really exciting."
It certainly will be exciting for McDermott if he can solidify the free safety position from day one of the 2010 season.
-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 9:20 p.m., August 6