Chargers receiver Keenan Allen off to best start of career
COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles Chargers have been beset by injuries all season with the wide receiver position being no exception. But that hasn’t stopped Keenan Allen from putting up record numbers.
Allen is off to the best start in his seven-year career. He leads the league in receiving yards (452) and is tied in receptions (34). Both are the most by a Chargers player through the first four games of a season in franchise history.
Allen will be Philip Rivers’ main target again Sunday when the Chargers (2-2) host winless Denver (0-4) in an AFC West matchup.
Mike Williams (back) and Travis Benjamin (knee) continue to battle injuries. Dontrelle Inman, who led the Chargers in receptions during last Sunday’s win at Miami, was placed on injured reserve Wednesday due to a quad injury.
Injuries are something that Allen knows all too well. He missed the last eight games in 2015 due to a lacerated kidney and then tore the ACL in his right knee during the 2016 opener. He hasn’t missed a game during the past two-plus seasons, however.
“My main things are trying to be consistent and available,” Allen said before practice Wednesday. “This is probably the best I have felt after four games (in a season).”
Allen hasn’t just been the league’s top receiver this season, he has put up some of the best numbers since midway through last season. Over his past 13 games, Allen is second in the league in receptions (84), fifth in yards (1,018) and tied for third in touchdowns (eight).
“Well, to me, I think he has picked up where he left off,” Rivers said. “Obviously, the numbers are up there, but I think again, the way he works at it, the way he practices, all camp, all offseason and then just his ability to separate, get open and make plays.”
Despite the injuries, the Chargers still have some options besides Allen so that he isn’t consistently being double teamed. Austin Ekeler was one of the top running backs in the league in terms of receptions during Melvin Gordon’s holdout. With Gordon expected to play this week, Rivers will have another talented running back who can catch balls out of the backfield.
“I am getting more opportunities because some of our big guys are out. I’m just trying to take advantage of it,” Allen said. “You still can’t key in on me a lot for so long because our running backs get it a lot. The more touches they get, the more defenses will put more in the box, which will be good.”
NOTES: The Chargers signed kicker Chase McLaughlin after Ty Long, who has been handling punting and kicking duties, said his plant foot was starting to bother him. McLaughlin will handle placekicking and kickoffs if Michael Badgley is still unable to go due to a groin injury.