In light of first-round draft pick Mike Williams‘ potentially lingering back injury, the Los Angeles Chargers could use a positive update on Keenan Allen‘s quest to recapture No. 1 receiver form after missing 15 games with an ACL tear last season.
To that end, franchise quarterback Philip Rivers fully expects Allen to reemerge as his go-to target as soon as the 2017 season opens.
“He looks like himself,” Rivers said last week on The Rich Eisen Show. “… I really think he looks just as good as before he got hurt.”
Insisting that he feels “amazing,” Allen labeled his recovery at “85 percent” back in mid-April. Since then, he has impressed Rivers with his work in May and June practices.
“He practiced with us all offseason,” Rivers continued. “I spoke to him the other day, and he’s so fired up to be out there with us. I don’t think you’ll see a difference. You’ll see the same guy trot out there as last September.”
Still just 25 years old, Allen has now suffered severe injuries to both knees in addition to a lacerated kidney that cost him the final eight games of the 2015 season.
As loaded as the Bolts’ offense is this year, Rivers relies heavily on Allen not just as a chain-mover and playmaker, but also as a threat to draw coverage away from other receivers.
“He opens so much up for me,” No. 2 receiver Tyrell Williams explained earlier this offseason. “Defenses have to account for him, so that will open it for me and really the whole offense. He is such a big part [of what we do]. He’ll open things up for all the receivers and the backs, too. I think it will be a big year for all of us.”
If Allen can avoid a setback in training camp and the preseason, the Chargers will have the luxury of holding Mike Williams out until his back is fully recovered. With or without his top draft pick, Rivers figures to be directing one of the NFL’s most dangerous offensive attacks this season.