Safety Nate Allen was part of the Oakland Raiders 2015 free agent haul back in March. The former Philadelphia Eagle was expected to start alongside future Hall of Famer Charles Woodson and help solidify a young secondary. However, after a productive training camp and preseason, Allen suffered a knee injury in the regular season opener Sept. 13 against the Cincinnati Bengals, and was placed on the Reserve/Injured list with the Designated for Return option employed.
Allen was relieved when he found out that surgery would not be necessary and that he wouldn't be shut down for the entire season.
"That was a big relief, at first I thought I might have to, after the MRI and everything, found out I didn't need it," Allen said. "That was a positive in that situation."
The sixth-year man out of South Florida was disappointed when he went down but didn't dwell on it. Instead, Allen focused on getting back to work.
"It was tough," Allen said. "That's part of the game, I didn't know exactly what happened right when it happened. I'm not really thinking about it now, just moving forward."
Raiders Head Coach Jack Del Rio is happy to have Allen back at practice and noted how hard Allen has worked to get back on the field.
"He's a good player and it's great to see him back out working his way back from his injury. We get a chance to now get him activated and go from working just with the trainers to working with the team and getting his timing back and all of that, so it's good for us," Head Coach Del Rio said. "He was playing well prior to getting banged up. Fortunately for him and for us, it was not an injury that will put him down for the year."
The Raiders have had to mix and match in the secondary in Allen's absence with cornerback TJ Carrie filling in at safety and the team adding cornerback David Amerson via waivers Sept. 22. Head Coach Del Rio said that Allen will be worked in, and how the secondary shapes up upon his return well be evaluated on a go-forward basis.
"The biggest thing it'll do is add a good player to the equation. How the roles will end up being defined, I would say it's fluid. We're open-minded," Coach Del Rio said. "We want to utilize the talent we have available to us and put our guys in positions to do the things they're good at."
Allen has helped Carrie as much as he can and has been encouraged by the progress the secondary has made week-to-week in his absence, but is anxious to get back in the mix and contribute.
"I talk to [Carrie] a lot, he sits by me in meeting rooms, it's a new 'sight' for him being back there at safety, he's doing a great job, I've been giving him some tips here and there," Allen said. "It's real encouraging, they've been playing tough, they had a great game last week, they've been getting better and better, especially out there on the edges, that what we need them to do. DJ [Hayden] and Neiko [Thorpe] and all those guys are doing a great job."
The earliest Allen can return to game action is Week 10, Nov. 15, against the Minnesota Vikings at O.co Coliseum in Oakland.
"I'll be ready to go, I'm feeling good," Allen added.