While Washington's first pick in the 2017 NFL Draft is unsure when exactly he'll be a full participant in football activities, he is ready to get going again soon.
It’s been a test of his patience over the last few months, but Washington Redskins defensive lineman Jonathan Allen is inching closer to his full return to football action.
“I'm out there running, getting off the ball, cutting back,” Allen told Redskins.com. “And there's definitely a balance because you don't want to rush back so early, but I feel really good right now. I'm excited about how much progress I made, and I'm looking forward to getting started."
Selected with the No. 17-overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Allen excelled in his first five NFL games, recording 10 tackles (three solo) along with one sack while providing the Redskins a stout run-stopping presence.
But late in Washington’s Week 6 victory over the San Francisco 49ers, the Ashburn, Va., native suffered a Lisfranc injury that would ultimately sideline him for the rest of the season.
While Allen briefly resurfaced at practices late in the season doing rehab work with the team’s training staff, he was never activated off Injured Reserve after the Redskins were eliminated from playoff contention.
Allen admitted that while he’s feeling close to full-health, he’s unsure how much he’ll be able to do during OTAs.
“I'm going to be honest, the OTAs they start like end of April, and this will be my first time, so I would like to think so, but I mean, honestly, there's no way of telling at this point,” Allen said. “I feel like I'm going to be in a good spot come OTAs, so I'm excited for that, and right now, I'm just taking it day by day just trying to grind."
Even though Allen was sidelined for Washington’s final 11 games of the year, he remained engaged during his rookie season.
“I was actually regularly going to the meetings,” Allen said. “I would watch film with [the defensive line] and do all of the things that they were doing, and that definitely helps out. Just knowing that you're unlikely to come back for a season, there's a mental block with that too. Like man, you want to be out there on the field and doing the stuff you see in the film, so that's probably the hardest part. Just, mentally wanting to be out there and help my team, but I definitely feel like being there helps out."
Check out images of defensive lineman, Jonathan Allen during his first few months with the Washington Redskins.
But just attending meetings simply wasn’t the same for Allen.
“I can't tell you how much I miss it, and how much I can't wait to just get back out there and be a part of the team again, you know, because it is different,” Allen said. “You're a part of the team but you don't feel like you're truly a part of the team when you're not on the field. You're not dying in practice with your guys, so that's definitely the stuff that I miss."
Once he is back, though, the Redskins believe Allen can be a productive centerpiece for the defense in the years to come.
“I think they sky’s the limit for him,” said Redskins linebacker Mason Foster last month. “You see how athletic he is and how agile he is but a lot of times you see him in person and shake his hand and hang out with him you don’t realize how big he is, how big and strong he is.
“In the way that he works, he’s in here now doing the ladders and him and Matt [Ioannidis] in here killing each other, trying to lift with Ziggy [Hood], running all the time, so I think you see a guy with that much raw talent and that much drive to be good and he surrounds himself with guys that are pushing him, I think he’s going to be big-time in this league.”
Redskins head coach Jay Gruden added that he sees few flaws in Allen’s game.
“He’s the total package,” Gruden said. “He can play the run, he’s strong, he’s physical, he’s a great kid, he works extremely hard, there’s really not a negative when I look at Jonathan Allen. I wish he wasn’t injured, maybe, that’s it. But overall I think he’s a great prospect. He’s going to be a heck of a Redskins [player] for a very long time.”