As we all know by now, yesterday the Miami Dolphins made 27 roster moves to meet the NFL's 53-man roster deadline, including veteran cornerback Will Allen. Allen, who has been with the Dolphins since 2006, tore his ACL in a 2009 game, and hasn't been able to get back on the field since.
Allen was signed by the Dolphins in the 2006 offseason, following five years with the New York Giant - who were replacing Allen with former Dolphin Sam Madison. Allen had been the Giants' first round draft choice in 2001 and had earned a reputation as a cover corner who struggled to make the interception. During his Giants tenure, Allen has 295 tackles, 61 passes defensed, 8 interceptions, and 22 forced fumbles, in 72 games (starting 71).
After joining the Dolphins, Allen solidified his role as a cover corner. Matched up with Jason Allen, Vontae Davis, and Sean Smith throughout his time in Miami, as the Dolphins continued to get younger in the secondary, Allen continued to prove he was worthy of the Dolphins first string slot, starting all 39 of his games with the Dolphins.
In the Dolphins' Week 6 game against the New Orleans Saints in 2009, Allen went down with a knee injury. Following the game, Miami announced that Allen had torn his ACL and would be placed on injured reserve, ending his 2009 season. Week 7 would mark the first game for the Dolphins without Allen on the field since Week 12 of the 2006 season.
It would also mark the last time Allen would appear in a regular season game for the Dolphins.
As the 2010 season approached, there was hope for Allen's return. However, when he did not respond during training camp, Allen was again placed on injured reserve, spending the entire 2010 season on the sidelines.
This preseason, things again looked up for Allen, who was finally able to get back on a game field, appearing in the Dolphins' Week 3 and Week 4 preseason games. Allen, who had been scheduled to make $5.5 million in 2011 restructured his contract prior to the season, taking less money to come back to the Dolphins. With the emergence of Davis and Smith as one of the top cornerback tandems in the league, Allen was expected to battle for a role as the team's nickelback.
Allen provided one of the highlights of the preseason when, on September 1, against the Dallas Cowboys, he made a play on a Stephen McGee pass to the endzone. Allen, who had been covering two receivers on the play, broke for the ball while it was in the air, jumping and tipping it away from the waiting arms of Cowboys tight end Martin Rucker. As the ball fell away from Rucker, Miami safety Tyrone Culver was there to snag the interception.
Throughout the game, Allen seemed to be everywhere, leading the team in tackles (5), along with the pass defensed. Allen seemed to have once again fought his way toward a roster spot.
But it wasn't meant to be. Allen was released, along with 25 other Dolphins players, yesterday. He finished his Dolphins career with 189 tackles, 4 sacks, 45 passes defensed, 7 interceptions, and the only touchdown of his career.
Allen's career isn't over yet, as he will be picked up somewhere to provide veteran leadership and experience to a secondary. But, his time as a Dolphin is complete. During that time, he confirmed his reputation from back with the Giants - he was never going to get a ton of interceptions, but he was always there, in the right place, stopping the play and preventing the big gain. Now, he's be in the right place for someone else.