October 25, 2009, Miami Dolphins cornerback Will Allen tore his anterior cruciate ligament in the Week 6 game against the New Orleans Saints. He hasn't seen game action since.
Until this upcoming preseason game, that is.
Allen looks to get past his inability to play by getting on the field Friday against the Carolina Panthers. Although fears of where his knee is in recovery have kept limited in practice so far this training camp, Allen was back on the field on Monday, practicing with the second and third teams.
When he got injured, Allen had been the Dolphins top cornerback, starting opposite rookie Sean Smith. His injury cleared the way for Vontae Davis to move into a starters role, meaning the Dolphins started rookies at both cornerback positions the remainder of the 2009 season.
Dolphins Head Coach Tony Sparano was asked if Allen would be able to play on Friday. "Yeah I am hoping he could. I mean we really took it easy on him the other night," he replied. "We’re just trying to get him through this thing and get on with it here. But I would expect it, at least I hope that as long as we continue to make progress and don’t have a setback that he will play."
Allen restructured his contract during the offseason, after reports that the Dolphins were going to release him, rather than pay him the $5.5 million he was owed for 2011, the final year of a three-year $16.2 million contract extension. The Dolphins will pay Allen $1.5 million this year.
Allen was expected to battle fellow cornerback Benny Sapp for the team's nickel corner position, but so far Allen has worked as a backup to Davis and Smith, rather than at the nickel. It will be interesting, as Allen gets back into full practices and the preseason games, to see if Sapp continues to hold the nickel spot, and what happens with Allen.
But, the important thing of note here is that Allen, after missing 26 regular season games, and 5 preseason games, will finally get back on the field this Friday. Even at age 33, Allen can provide some stability to the Dolphins' secondary, providing both veteran leadership to the development of Davis, Smith, Sapp, Nate Ness, and rookies Vincent Agnew, Jose Perez, and Jimmy Wilson, as well as quality depth at an important position for Miami.