Eagles’ Devon Allen compares training for track and football

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Eagles’ Olympian Allen compares training for track and football originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Devon Allen sees the similarities between training for track and football.

The Eagles’ 27-year-old rookie receiver, who also doubles as an Olympic hurdler, was the latest guest on Takeoff with John Clark and said the way he trains to play receiver and for the 110-meter hurdles isn’t all that different.

On the track, it’s all about accelerating before the hurdle. He’s using that acceleration on the football field too.

“I train to be explosive and as strong as possible on the track,” Allen said to Clark this week, “and that’s pretty much what I’ll be doing in football.”

Allen on Sunday will race in the USATF NYC Grand Prix in the 110-meter hurdles on NBC.

In July, Allen is expecting to race in the world championships in Eugene, Oregon. And then he’ll pretty much go directly to training camp.

“So I expect to be the fastest I’ve ever been in my life,” Allen said.

The Eagles’ intriguing rookie hasn’t played football competitively since the 2016 season at Oregon. He put his NFL dreams on hold to pursue his career in track and field and has become a two-time Olympian. But his goal was always to go back to football. Initially, he planned on doing it after the last Olympics but COVID-19 pushed that goal back one year.

And, recently, COVID-19 put a damper on his spring workouts.

After attending the earlier portion of the Eagles’ voluntary offseason, Allen was noticeably absent during OTAs. But for good reason: He tested positive for COVID. So he was forced to hit the pause button on his training for football and track, although he feels lucky he didn’t get too sick.

But Allen had been with the Eagles and around his teammates this offseason. He has been welcomed in by his fellow receivers and quarterback Jalen Hurts. While Allen admitted learning the play book was “a lot more difficult” than he anticipated, he’s been picking it up. And he can’t wait to show what he can do at training camp beginning next month.

“For the most part, I think my job is going to be to be the fast guy,” Allen said. “I’m one of the fastest men in the world so I need to be able to show that on the field. That’s something I’m hoping to do.”

Plenty of his teammates have been asking Allen to race them but he has quipped back that he’s a professional track athlete, so he gets paid to race. Allen says he’s the fastest player on the team but noted the overall speed in the receiver group.

Allen has been very impressed by Hurts on and off the field. Before signing with the Eagles, Allen’s track coach has been throwing him the football, so Hurts is a big step up. Allen hasn’t played with an NFL-caliber quarterback since his college days so he’s been very happy with Hurts this spring.

He’s really enjoyed getting to know Hurts off the field too. Before the Penn Relays, Hurts invited Allen over for a crawfish boil and the two got to know one another better. The crawfish, by the way, get spicier with each subsequent pot.

“This guy doesn’t owe me anything, he doesn’t have to say much to me at all,” Allen said. “I’m like the sixth, seventh, eighth receiver right now on the depth chart just because I just got there and he made an effort to get to know me and do all that stuff. And I think that’s something special about this team. All the guys have really made an effort to be present and really get to know everybody on the team and to build strong chemistry.”

The Eagles signed Allen in April after watching him work out at the Oregon pro day, which led to a visit at the NovaCare Complex. At that pro day, Allen ran an unofficial 4.35 in the 40-yard dash, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. He is, after all, a world class sprinter.

Allen is a three-time U.S. national champion and represented the United States at the 2016 and 2020 Olympics. He finished fifth in Rio and fourth in Tokyo.

Now, he’s trying to make an NFL roster.

“I think I have a good opportunity to play some good football and help them win football games,” Allen said, “whether that’s at wide receiver or kick return, punt return, running down on punt or kicks, special teams. I know it’s been a while since I’ve played football but I’ve played it my whole life. So hopefully it’s going to be like riding a bike.”

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