Jonathan Allen wants more group-wide success for Washington's defensive line

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Jonathan Allen wants more group-wide success on defensive line originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

When Daron Payne and his fellow pass rushers and run stuffers go out to eat together, they typically end up at a steakhouse. And as you can imagine, it doesn't ever end that well for the steaks.

"Them boys can eat," Payne said Friday when discussing meals with his teammates. "I'm not going to lie."

The Washington Commanders are hoping that Payne and the others up front bring that major appetite to the 2022 season, as they and the defense in its entirety looks to recover from a dismaying 2021.

In addition to Payne, the club's defensive line boasts Jonathan Allen, Montez Sweat and Chase Young (whose rehab from an ACL injury will trickle into the regular season). Second-rounder Phidarian Mathis will slot into the rotation this year, too.

From afar, it's a group with pedigree and, well, another p-word — but don't use that noun around Allen, because he has serious disdain for it.

"You don't get paid off potential," Allen told NBC Sports Washington Friday. "You get paid off production and that's what we're here for. We can talk about potential all day, but at the end of the day if you don't make plays on the field and do what you're supposed to do, it doesn't matter."

Allen's sternness is probably warranted, because a season ago, the non-Mathis players listed above along with Matt Ioannidis and Tim Settle were nowhere near dominant enough for Washington. Too often, they were dominated, really.

There were separate success stories on the line with the most notable one being Allen, who emerged as a Pro Bowler and tallied nine sacks. But as he noted, there wasn't enough collective achieving, and once those struggles were combined with health issues, underwhelming output ensued.

"I feel like we didn't play well together. Individually we played well, but together we didn't really play well as a unit," Allen said. "The injuries really knocked us off as far as building that continuity during practice. That's definitely something that we're trying to work on right now."

Hall of Famer Warren Sapp, during a June stop at the franchise's facility where he pitched in as a visiting coach, tried to instill in the bunch a message that would encourage more widespread gains. Allen no doubt agreed with the sentiment.

"It's a pack," Sapp said. "If y'all are going to hunt together, y'all will eat good. But the lone wolf dies... No wolf eats by himself."

Those D-linemen sure like talking about food, don't they?

For the upcoming campaign, the Commanders' first wave of defenders are working through training camp without Young. According to Payne, Young is involving himself with off-field activities such as film study and chats about how camp is progressing. Hopefully, that'll assist him when he eventually dons a uniform again.

"When he gets back out there, it'll just be him getting a feel of rushing with me and rushing with other guys," Payne said.

As for Payne, he's in a bit of a financial kerfuffle with the team and is seeking a new deal, but there haven't been any fresh developments in those negotiations. He downplayed the dilemma on Friday.

"I'm here for the football," he declared. "You get the contract for playing football."

With Allen and Payne motivated, Sweat off to a hell of a start in the late-July practices and Young likely anxious to come back and contribute in his own right, one could almost conclude that... there are reasons to be optimistic about the defensive line's year.

Hey, Allen can't get too mad, because that's simply a long way of saying potential without outright saying it.