Dennis Allen says ‘dependability, availability’ are key for third-year DE Payton Turner

It’s been a rough couple of years for Payton Turner. Injuries have kept him out of the lineup for long stretches early in his career, and when he has been on the field he’s been outpaced by lesser-paid and lower-drafted teammates. Now entering the third year of his career, his head coach Dennis Allen is approaching him with a heightened sense of urgency.

“Well, I think the first thing is Payton, much like Marcus (Davenport) is about being available,” Allen bluntly told’s John Hendrix at the NFL Scouting Combine on Wednesday. “Dependability, availability, those types of things are important things for him. We drafted him in the first round. He’s extremely talented, but he’s another player that hasn’t really had an offseason. He’s another player that we we haven’t really had a chance to work with him because of some of the injury issues.”

Turner has been limited to just 13 games through his first two years, ending the 2022 regular season as a healthy scratch. He’s only produced 3 sacks and 8 tackles for loss across that span while playing behind guys like Cameron Jordan, Marcus Davenport, and lately Carl Granderson and Tanoh Kpassagnon. Davenport is expected to at least test the market in free agency, possibly leading to more opportunities for Turner to climb the depth chart.

One person Allen hopes can be a positive influence on Turner: defensive line coach Todd Grantham. He saw the benefits of hiring a new position coach to work with struggling right guard Cesar Ruiz last summer, and now he’s hoping Grantham can help have a similar impact to offensive line coach Doug Marrone on the other side of the ball.

Allen said of Grantham’s hire: “I love his experience. I like the fact that he sees the game, not just from a defensive line perspective. He’s been a coordinator in our league, he’s been a coordinator in the SEC, in college. I like the fact that he can see the game from a coordinator’s perspective, but yet also he understands fundamentals and technique and things of that nature, in terms of playing the defensive line position.”

Time will tell if these changes are going to be enough to help Turner play his best football. Right now the buzzards are swirling and suggesting he’s already earned the dreaded “bust” label just a few years into his pro career. At the end of the day, it’s going to be on Turner to prove his critics wrong.

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Story originally appeared on Saints Wire