Kenderick Allen report......
Wednesday, Aug. 6
Allen making steady progress with Saints 08/06/03
By SHELDON MICKLES
Kenderick Allen, a former LSU player, goes through drills at the Saints training camp Tuesday.
METAIRIE -- As an undrafted free agent who's facing an uphill battle to earn a roster spot, Kenderick Allen went into the New Orleans Saints' Black and Gold Scrimmage on Saturday night with one goal in mind.
Playing at one of the most crowded positions on the team, where eight players are vying for probably four spots, the former LSU player knew he had to make a good early impression on the coaches.
"I wanted to go out and not make any mistakes," Allen said. "They (the coaches) like it when you don't make any mental errors. So not making mistakes and playing hard was the key for me."
Apparently, the 6-foot-6, 318-pounder did just that. He drew praise from coach Jim Haslett and defensive coordinator Rick Venturi after a review of the scrimmage tapes, and, as a result, may have earned more playing time in the first couple of exhibition games.
"He played really well in the scrimmage," Haslett said, pointing out that Allen showed his quickness and athleticism on one particular play when he chased down a screen pass and brought down the ball carrier. "He's kind of tall, but if he plays with leverage he's hard to move off the ball."
"Kenderick hung in there real good, but he's a work in progress," Venturi said. "We're going to watch him pretty good with preseason games coming up, but he's going to get a lot of work."
And while he's still a long shot to make the roster, Allen could at least give himself a good chance at being a member of the five-man practice squad if he continues to play like he did Saturday night and in the first 15 practice sessions of training camp.
In addition to having no mental busts in the scrimmage, which was dominated by the defense, Allen said he played off the blocks well and did a good job tackling.
"If you don't make mental mistakes, the plays are going to come to you," he said.
"If you know your assignments and you're in the right position, you're going to have a chance to make plays."
Allen, who is being tried at the nose tackle position, said he was on the field for about 22 plays. He got five snaps with the second team, eight more with the third group and played most of the third series, which had 22 plays.
Those repetitions are important for someone who has played the interior defensive line positions for only nine games in college. In his first three seasons at LSU, he started at end before making way for sophomores Marcus Spears and Marquis Hill early last year.
"It was a decision we all made, me and the coaches talked about it," Allen said. "I had a good relationship with coach (Nick) Saban, so I had no problem with it."
Actually, that move might have given him a shot at making it to the next level.
After being passed over by all 32 teams in the April draft, the Bogalusa native said 12 or 13 clubs showed interest in him.
But the chance to play near his hometown and with a defensive coordinator who is a good friend of Saban were major plusses, Allen said. He said it was similar to his decision to play at LSU after his father died during his senior year of high school.
"When I wasn't drafted, I prayed and thought about it," Allen said, "and I realized that I was supposed to be here for a reason. When the Saints called me and offered me a contract, I just figured that it was meant to be."
That Venturi and Saban, who became friends when they were on the same staff with the Cleveland Browns in the mid-1990s, use the same defensive scheme was the other part of the equation.
"The defenses and a lot of the terminology are pretty similar," Allen said. "So, it's been like a natural progression for me to come from college to here."
"Nick felt that in the right situation he really might have a chance," Venturi said. "And Nick is a guy that has been here in this league, so he knows what it takes to play at this level."
Venturi said he likes Allen's strength and toughness, but would like to see him be a little more active at certain times. But it's still going to be an uphill climb for Allen over the next three to four weeks with veterans like Martin Chase and Grady Jackson working in front of him at the nose.
First-round draft pick Johnathan Sullivan, Willie Whitehead and Kenny Smith are among those playing the three technique, the tackle that lines up on the guard's outside shoulder rather than the center.
"I know I'm not going to be intimidated," Allen said. "If you want to be an athlete, you have to take on those challenges. The better they are just makes you perform better. So I don't want to have any bad days."
[Edited on 6/8/2003 by JOESAM2002]
Kenderick Allen report......
Always good to have a local player that also played for in state school in the hunt for a roster spot. I don\'t think this will be the year that Kenderick makes the cut. I do think he will be signed to the practice squad. Some seasoning will give him a better chance next year to make this or another club.
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