RICHMOND — Losing a 1-on-1 drill for most players isn't a huge deal. There'll be another rep, and another after that. But Jonathan Allen isn't most players.
When the defensive lineman gets stood up by a blocker, the usually stern Allen gets downright salty. On Wednesday, when Wes Martin prevented him from breaking through on a rush, No. 93 shoved Martin's hands off him in a way that said, How dare you get in my way while I'm chasing after the quarterback?
"I hate losing more than I like winning," he explained during a recent press conference.
A lot of athletes say that. Allen absolutely, fully, totally and completely means it. And you get the feeling that, after seeing the Burgundy and Gold go 7-9 the past two seasons, he's doing what he can to spread that attitude throughout the roster.
It's working, too, according to him.
"I just feel like we have a bunch of guys who want to win," Allen said when asked if he's noticed more excitement around this team than past editions. "We're just trying to win. Honestly, if it's not about that, there's really no point. I'm not talking about it."
Fortunately for Allen, much of the Redskins' fate in 2019 will fall on his unit, the D-line. He, Daron Payne, Matt Ioannidis, Tim Settle and Caleb Brantley make up the strongest group on either side of the ball, and possess enough talent to lead a defense and hopefully prop up what may be a mediocre offense.
Overall, they're a nasty bunch. They've been at the center of multiple brawls here at training camp and approach each session as if they're crusty, old veterans who've been in the league for a decade. That all stems from Allen, who very well could be named defensive captain by Week 1.
Don't try and get him to open up on that, though.
"If I'm put into that position, great, but I am not making it a priority," he told the media. "I'm trying to win games."
You sensing a theme here yet when it comes to this Allen dude and winning?
As a rookie, he showed promise before ultimately landing on IR. In his second campaign, he stayed healthy, posted eight sacks and racked up a high number of tackles for someone who plays with their hand in the ground. In 2019, if he keeps progressing — and so far in Richmond, he's been really sharp — he could go from the Redskins' best defensive player to one of the NFL's best defensive players.
"I wouldn't say I'm like a wily vet. I definitely feel confident," Allen said. "For me personally, since I know the plays, I can focus on just playing faster, more aggressive, more confident."
It's scary to imagine a more aggressive and more confident Allen. It's even scarier for opposing guards and tackles. But if it leads to more victories on Sundays, maybe we'll also see a happier Allen. Maybe.
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