When life deals lemons, well, you’ve heard that sweet-and-sour story before. In Aundrae Allison’s case, he looks across the line at the other side of the ball.
Allison, the Jets wideout who lost all of last season to an ACL tear in the final preseason game against Philadelphia, took inspiration during that time from a Vikings linebacker of his acquaintance.
"My whole mindset during that time was that I know so many people who came back from that injury that I really look up to player-wise," Allison told me last week. "One of the guys I always thought about was Chad Greenway. He’s one of my favorite linebackers in the NFL. He had the same injury his rookie year and he just bounced back. He was making great plays out there as if he never did it. I kept that in mind. That’s kept me motivated the whole time."
"My main focus is not to be a statistic. If I am, it’ll be a statistic that came back from the injury and had a great career."
Allison has been tantalizingly close to doing that since entering the NFL as Minnesota’s fifth-round pick out of East Carolina in 2007. Packing 4.39-second speed, he turned in a 104-yard kickoff-return TD as a rookie and averaged 12.8 yards on 18 receptions in limited work as a Vikings receiver.
When the Vikes waived him last August, the Jets brought him aboard and he started to catch eyes in Cortland. Rex Ryan called him "88 Out of the Gate" during camp, and it’s easy to forget that "Drae" had the third-most all-purpose yards on the Jets last preseason — 293 total, with 70 coming on one touchdown reception from Erik Ainge against the Giants.
Then Allison’s playing time came to a halt and the rehab began on the late-second-quarter kickoff return against the Eagles. But he’s come out of it a stronger and more focused candidate for the Jets’ WR corps.
"I’m feeling really good. Thank God the trainers did a good job of getting me back right," he said after running routes and catching a few balls during the most recent OTA practice. "It’s been a good process. It wasn’t too hard. Mentally I feel like I’m all the way there, but physically I’ve just got to take my time and be patient, still get the feel for it back. It’s going to take time, but it’ll come."
Time is starting to accelerate now, of course. Full-squad minicamp is ahead in mid-June, then camp in August. As if to keep Allison on his toes, the Jets went out and traded for Santonio Holmes. But again, Allison’s using the addition of topflight competition at his position as motivation.
"Santonio coming in, I’m like ‘Good, I can learn from him.’ That’s another guy I looked at, paid close attention to when he was at Pittsburgh. He’s a playmaker, so if anything I’m always going to be in his ear, trying to get his knicks and knacks, what he does on the field.
Ryan has Jerricho Cotchery plus two talented players at the position that he didn’t have at training camp last year in Braylon Edwards and Holmes. But the coach hasn’t forgotten how Allison was starting to come on late in the preseason. As he said on last week’s live chat, "We have an incredible amount of depth right now at receiver. Someone like David Clowney, Aundrae Allison, who unfortunately had the knee injury last year, the multitalented Brad Smith, those are guys who will be competing for jobs."
"You can’t really focus on who’s here and who’s not," Allison said about the crowded wideout picture. "You’ve just got to really stay in the present, just take advantage of the time you’re in that situation. That’s what I try to do. I just try to stay focused on the present and myself."
Here are the Jets’ seven pass plays of 70-plus yards, all for touchdowns, in all games the past five seasons:
|Sept. 17, 2006||RS||Jerricho Cotchery||Chad Pennington||vs. NE||71|
|Jan. 7, 2007||PO||Jerricho Cotchery||Chad Pennington||@NE||77|
|Aug. 25, 2007||PS||Leon Washington||Chad Pennington||@NYG||79|
|Aug. 7, 2008||PS||David Clowney||Brett Ratliff||@CLE||71|
|Aug. 7, 2008||PS||David Clowney||Brett Ratliff||@CLE||70|
|Aug. 29, 2009||PS||Aundrae Allison||Erik Ainge||@NYG||70|
|Jan. 24, 2010||PO||Braylon Edwards||Mark Sanchez||@IND||80|
Tags: Aundrae Allison, Brad Smith, Braylon Edwards, David Clowney, Jerricho Cotchery, Rex Ryan, Santonio Holmes
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