Javorius Allen receives chance at fresh start with Saints
The New Orleans Saints hung out a Help Wanted sign of sort during this offseason, seeking another backup running back option to fill a void.
Latavius Murray, who inked a four-year, $14.4 million deal during free agency, will team with Alvin Kamara as the replacement for Mark Ingram. But who will be the main insurance policy if either or both are injured?
If you check out the history of past backup runners in the Sean Payton era, you’ll discover that quite a few have forged a name for themselves having arrived as undrafted rookies or just climbing off the NFL free agent scrap heap. Either way, Payton is looking for productivity and consistency, regardless how you arrived.
Keep an eye on veteran addition Javorius “Buck” Allen, who spent his entire NFL career with the Baltimore Ravens after being chosen in the fourth round of the 2015 draft. He has accounted for 1,249 rushing yards and eight touchdowns in the league but something that must have caught the eyes of the Saints are his 129 catches for 814 yards and six touchdowns. Both in 2015 and ’17, Allen caught 45 passes or more.
The 6-foot, 216-pound Allen, who was allowed to leave the Ravens in part due to the signing in Ingram, feels like New Orleans is a great landing spot.
“First and foremost, I feel like it’s a clean slate here,” Allen noted. “When you’re in a certain program, sometimes people already have a certain opinion of that player. It’s good to change sometimes.”
Allen was never someone who Baltimore seemed comfortable making the focus of their running game but he knows he had important chances to prove his worth there.
“I respect everybody (Ravens) for giving me that opportunity, but who wouldn’t want to play in New Orleans,” said Allen.
Ingram is a downhill runner built for use between the tackles. Allen feels he is a more versatile type of foot soldier.
“I’m a slasher,” he declared. “I’m great out of the backfield. Whatever they need me to do to get the job done. I can get dirty (tough yards).”
Ingram was a reliable blocker for quarterback Drew Brees, and Allen understands that is required for all Saints running backs. Yet, a change of environment doesn’t always translate into a total new mindset.
“Football is football, it’s just the terminology,” Allen said. “Once you get that, you know the X and O’s. It’s the same. It’s about executing and learning the plays. Just study your assignment.”
Allen may have been disappointed about leaving Baltimore but lady luck may have smiled on him.
“It was a blessing. I came in for a workout. Every team needs something different. Maybe one team didn’t call because they are looking for something different, someone who just fits that offense. But when I got the call, I thought ‘Man, this is an opportunity for me. This offense is great!’ This offense is the one for me,” said Allen.
Allen may have to elevate his game in order to gain significant reps and challenge for playing time. He won’t be the first underdog running back to seize the moment in New Orleans. The support in the Saints locker room is unique.
“The bond is strong, much more so than what I was expecting it to be. It’s very family oriented,” Allen explained. “Here everyone feels so genuine. All the guys have welcomed me in since I’ve been here. They are all very connected. Everyone here is one unit.”
Allen hopes to do more than just make the roster, and his versatility might give him a chance to shine if he does stick.
From 2011-14, Allen played at USC and totaled 1,489 rushing yards with 11 touchdowns, earning all-conference honors. It was former Trojans head coach Steve Sarkisian’s first season who has since been replaced by Clay Helton. Pressure is on the current USC coach in 2019.
“I always believe in my Trojans,” allen beamed. “Clay Helton has got a lot of great guys around him. I’ve always had the utmost respect for Coach Helton. Being at USC is tough, like being an NFL coach. There is so much pressure.”
Allen believes USC will bounce back after finishing 5-7 last fall. “They’ve got a lot of young guys and a lot of talent. They just have to play the Trojan way. Just ‘Fight On’.”
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, Rene Nadeau has been involved in sports ever since his earliest memories. Rene played basketball, wrestled, ran track, and was an All-District running back in football at John F. Kennedy High School. He went on to be a member of the LSU football program, developing a passion for the game in even…