RICHMOND — Dominate has become Jonathan Allen’s favorite word. The second-year defensive lineman seems to say it an awful lot during training camp.
The plan for the upcoming season is clear after he lost all but five games of his rookie year to a Lisfranc injury.
“I definitely feel like everybody has personal goals, but for me it’s just to dominate and be more consistent,” Allen said. “I feel like I was, before I got hurt, I was playing at a pretty high level. But I want to be able to take that to the next level and be able to play like that every week, every game, and not have a good game or just an okay game. I want to be able to try to dominate every opponent, every snap, every game. So, when I say take it to the next level, I really mean consistency.”
Allen posted 10 tackles and a sack in those five games, immediately improving the play of the defensive line. The defense allowed fewer than 100 yards rushing in four of those five games before devolving into the NFL’s worst run defense without him. Allen said he got back to 100 percent healthy around March or April, and he has been a tough block during camp.
The No. 17 pick leaned on his natural ability as a rookie, but he’s focused on the details even more now.
“For me, I feel like bending the corner,” he said. “That’s the big thing that I’ve been trying to focus on: being able to become more skinny on the edge, really just trying to take in all the little things that I really wasn’t able to do last year just because I was so caught up in the moment. Really just trying to get a grasp on the playbook, the scheme, the technique. So this year I’m really trying to elevate my play and take it to the next level.”
Coach Jay Gruden said Allen has a combination of “great hands” and “great strength,” making him difficult to block in the run game, which in turn helps the linebackers run free to the ball. But Gruden is adamant, given questions about his pass-rush ability, that Allen’s not a one-trick pony.
“We have very high expectations for Jonathan,” Gruden said. “He is an excellent football player without a doubt. He’s not a one-dimensional player at all. He plays the run equally well as he can rush the passer. He is a very tenacious guy, he loves football, prepares his tail off. [Defensive line coach Jim] Tomsula is doing a great job with him. I have no worries about Jonathan; the only thing is we just have to keep him on the field. He is going to be a great player.”
There’s hope that Allen’s growth, plus the addition of 2018 No. 13 pick Daron Payne, will address the run-game issues. Third-year lineman Matt Ioannidis has lined up opposite Allen for much of camp and has had a strong showing as well.
The Redskins’ defensive line hasn’t had a reputation for dominance in recent seasons, but Allen’s aspiration for 2018 is clear: Dominate.
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