CHICAGO – When asked to assess how the backups performed in the Eagles’ preseason opener against the Bears, the first name out of Chip Kelly’s mouth was a rookie.
“I thought Beau Allen was a disruptive force out there,” he said.
The seventh-round pick out of Wisconsin has been drawing praise during training camp and made his presence felt in the second quarter. Lined up at nose tackle, he used his strength to shove the center back into the quarterback's face. Combined with an outside rush from Vinny Curry, the Eagles' defense nearly forced a fumble, but the official ruled that Jordan Palmer's arm was moving forward.
"I thought I did [have a fumble]," Allen said afterwards. "I was pretty excited for a second there. I didn’t really see the QB’s arm or whatever, but I guess it was an incomplete pass. I was pretty fired up for a second though."
Fired up would be an understatement. Allen, a native of Minnetonka, Minn., was playing in front of his parents and other family. He was calmly talking at his locker about a half-hour after the game, but clearly the adrenaline was flowing when he was on the field. He couldn't even remember where he was lined up on play described above.
"I don’t know," he said. "I was pretty in the moment. I can’t even remember what exactly… I think I was a zero-technique, so right over the center. But like I said, I was pretty fired up so I kind of blacked out for a second. I guess we’ll see on film."
At 333 pounds, Allen is the heaviest player on the Eagles' roster. With Bennie Logan sidelined because of a hamstring injury, Allen has lined up with the first team quite a bit during practice. Against Chicago, second-year player Damion Square got the start, but Allen made the most of his opportunity with the second team.
At the NovaCare Complex, he's had some impressive one-on-one rushes against center Jason Kelce.
"He has a lot of the raw ability you want to see," Kelce said. "He’s got really, really good feet for his size. He’s got good agility. Obviously he’s heavy so he’s a big load to push around. And now I think he’s starting to feel more and more comfortable so he’s able to play faster and faster and use that natural ability more and more.
"He’s actually a pretty good pass-rusher for how big he is. Most of those big guys can’t really do much. He’s got some different moves. He’s really good at using his feet and quickness to get the offensive linemen to move and then convert that to power, which is usually the best way to use it."
But on the one play that got people's attention Friday night, Allen didn't have to go to an arsenal of moves.
"When you’re right over the center like that, you don’t really have too many options for pass-rush," he said. "So I guess the best move is try to take him straight back."
On Friday night, that method worked just fine.