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Training Camp 2019: Allen says camp "going good so far"

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JACKSONVILLE – Josh Allen offered a quick assessment.

"It's going good so far," he said.

When asked about the same concept – how 2019 Training Camp was going for the Jaguars' rookie edge defender – Head Coach Doug Marrone offered a bit more detail.

More intriguingly, Marrone some lofty – or cautious – optimism.

"He has the ability to a very dangerous rusher – which is good," Marrone said Thursday on Day 7 of '19 camp at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex adjacent to TIAA Bank Field.

Marrone had more to say Thursday when discussing Allen, the No. 7 overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft and a player who led the Southeastern Conference in sacks last season. Marrone, while cautious to emphasize "that there is a lot of work still to do" with Allen, lauded the rookie's combination of size and athleticism.

At 6-feet-5, 271 pounds, Allen looks the part of a prototypical edge rusher – and in the first few days of camp, he's increasingly showing signs of taking that prototype to the field in productive fashion.

The Jaguars held Allen out of much of the on-field portion of the offseason program as a precaution because of a knee bruise. He participated sparingly in team drills in the first two days of camp. But Allen has worked full in the last five days, and Marrone said the results have been impressive.

"Now, all of a sudden, you are starting to see there are more reps now," Marrone said. "You are starting to see athleticism. You are talking about a guy who is big – 271, he's strong. You see power moves, you see speed and now you start to get excited. We're excited about where he is."

One pressing question:

Will the Jaguars be excited enough about Allen to use him in various situations?

The question is logical. Allen played weak-side linebacker at the University of Kentucky and has ability as a coverage linebacker. But Marrone said the answer remains that the Jaguars will use Allen as a pass-rushing defensive end. At least in the short term.

"He is a guy that he can drop, he can rush, he can play in a three-point stance, he can play in a two-point stance," Marrone said. "There are a lot of things going on. I'm sure a lot of people who have a lot of thoughts and they want to do a lot of things with him.

"Again, we have a plan. Let's just get him good at this, good at that."

Allen, speaking to the local media for the first time during '19 camp, was asked Thursday how he feels playing solely with his hand on the ground at defense end rather than standing up before the snap to play linebacker.

"I'm not worried about it now," Allen said. "I'm good playing with my hand in the dirt. It's actually fun. I like it a lot better. I've made a lot more plays, better get-offs, so playing with my hand in the ground is probably [different] the first couple days, but now that I've been doing it for so long, I'm adjusting to it really well.

"I just have to learn all of the plays and learn it like the back of my hand. So, once I get going, once I know the plays then [they're] probably going to start moving me around, but right now they have me in one spot. I'm going to focus on that spot and I'm going to play that position tremendously."

Allen has been impressive in pass-rushing drills early in camp and has worked extensively with the starters. That opportunity with the starters has come in part because of the absence of veteran pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue, who has not yet reported to camp because he and the team have not agreed to a new contract.

"I know when he comes back, my game is going to get so much better," Allen said. "Right now, we are just focused on winning and I know when he comes back, we are going to have a good tandem going on."

Allen, too, said the chance to work with All-Pro defensive end Calais Campbell has been valuable. Campbell routinely pulls other Jaguars defensive linemen to the side during practice to offer advice, and Allen said he welcomes those occasions.

"I mean, it's Calais Campbell," Allen said. "You all have seen his work, you've seen what he's been doing for the last 10-plus years. So, having a guy like that, that wants to teach me, that needs me, I'm going to listen to anything he tells me to do. And what he's telling me to do, I can do it, so when I do it, he's making a play and I'm making a play, we're going to be an unstoppable duo. …

"I'm still in the learning curve and learning plays, so I've got a lot of great guys behind me that are pushing me, that are motivating me, so it's on a good track so far."

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