LA Rams starting offensive center, Brian Allen, is paying it forward
By Bret Stuter
When the LA Rams lost Brian Allen in the middle of the 2019 NFL season, there was a general consensus that he may never play football again. To some fans, that seemed like a fitting end to a football career that appeared to never get off the ground. After all, the former Michigan State Spartans’ offensive lineman seemed to be in over his head, despite being drafted in the fourth round, 111th overall, in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Well, over his head is generous. In his first season of playing for the LA Rams on the offensive line, his play was violently erratic, and not in a good way. He fixated on a primary blocking assignment, to the expense of vulnerability to A-Gap blitzes. He stayed engaged until the whistle blew, but occasionally sent a defender careening into a teammate.
2019 injuries epidemic
And then, injuries began to happen. First offensive guard Joseph Noteboom. Then Brian Allen himself. Noteboom would heal and return to play. But Brian Allen’s injuries were too severe to bounce back from quickly. His NFL career was truly hanging in the balance.
Allen was a 6-foot-2 303-pound offensive lineman whose fit was pretty much offensive center, or bust. A stocky but compact offensive lineman, Allen was in line to take over from former veteran offensive center John Sullivan all along from the moment he was drafted. In fact, to prepare him for playing as a starter the following season, he was eased in by playing in lieu of starters in the last game of the season, as well as getting plenty of work on the offensive line on special teams.
If the plan was also to replace starting and outstanding left guard Rodger Saffold alongside Sullivan, that was all kept under wraps. It was the unexpected and unwise combination of playing two first-time starters side by side that seemed to be the undoing of Joseph Noteboom and Brian Allen. Neither player seemed particularly comfortable in their roles, opposing defenses made quick work of exploiting their unfamiliarity with the unit and each other.