Back in week seven against New Orleans, Miami's epic collapse wasn't the only painful loss. Will Allen tore the ACL in his left knee and was lost for the season. While many fans, myself included, enjoyed having the opportunity to watch the two rookie cornerbacks start week in and week out following Allen's injury, there's no way around the fact that Will's loss was a very big one.
His return will be equally as huge - that is, assuming Allen comes back and plays at the same level he was playing at before his injury.
That's the issue, though. Allen will be 32 in August and just nine months removed from reconstructive surgery to repair a knee which Allen had "multiple ligament tears." Of course, just a few months ago Allen declared that we would be a "starter" in 2010. However, a week later Allen was arrested for driving under the influence.
Was Allen also "speaking under the influence" when he told the Miami Herald that he would be a starter this season?
I guess that all depends on how quick an aging veteran can recover from major surgery. If he can get back to 100% - and that's a big "if" - then there's no reason to think Allen won't put up a hell of a fight for one of the starting battles. After all, he was the team's best corner last year before going down for the season and he has been the most consistent - and quite frankly dominant - training camp performer during his years in Miami.
So what if Allen performs like he always has in camp? How do the Dolphins not find a starting spot for him?
I really like Vontae Davis and Sean Smith as much as anyone. But Will Allen was good last year before getting hurt. He was great, in fact - borderline dominant.
Just look at the numbers.
According to ProFootballFocus, only Darrelle Revis allowed a fewer percentage of passes to be completed against him than Allen. Allen's 37.9% completed percentage was just 1% higher than Revis. And Allen's numbers against the opposition's top receivers was equally as impressive as his overall season stats, as you can see below:
Week 1: Roddy White - 3 catches on 5 targets against Allen for 22 yards.
Week 2: Pierre Garcon - 1 catch on 3 targets for 48 yards (note that Reggie Wayne was never thrown at with Allen covering).
Week 3: Vincent Jackson - 2 catches on 5 targets for 45 yards.
Week 4: Terrell Owens/Lee Evans - 0 catches on 3 targets.
Week 5: Braylon Edwards - 1 catch on 3 targets for 3 yards.
Week 7: Marques Colston - o catches on 2 targets.
All told against the top receivers of Miami's opponents, Allen held them to just a 33% success rate (7/21) for 118 yards (5.6 yards per attempt). That's damn impressive.
So what do you think? Where is Will Allen going to fit in this season in Miami's defensive backfield? Starter? Nickel?
Just another very interesting camp battle to keep an eye on - assuming Allen's healthy and ready to compete.