KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Offensive lineman Jeff Allen didn’t take long to realize he was back.
The fourth-year pro was part of a shakeup on Sunday that saw three position changes on the Chiefs offensive line against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Eric Fisher moved from right tackle to left tackle in place of Donald Stephenson, Laurent Duvernay Tardif returned to right guard in place of Zach Fulton and Allen drew the start at right tackle.
And the Chiefs’ opening series on offense told Allen all he needed to know.
“The first play, it felt good,” Allen said. “The first play, I went out there and I got to have contact with somebody other than my teammate. It felt good because I haven’t had that since the first preseason game.”
Allen, who spent a majority of the 2014 campaign on injured reserve after suffering elbow and bicep injuries in the season opener, sustained a knee injury in the opening preseason game on Aug. 15.
He missed the rest of preseason, was inactive the first two regular-season contests, then was relegated mostly to special teams in Weeks 3-6, seeing a total of two snaps on offense during that span.
Allen, who projected as a starter at the start of training camp, offered the Chiefs plenty of experience on the offensive line given his 32 career appearances (28 starts) at left guard and right tackle.
The 6-4, 306-pound lineman also provides an attribute coach Andy Reid appreciates.
“Jeff brings a little juice,” Reid said. “He’s got a certain attitude that he’s got and we’ve eased him in at the tight end spot and goal line at short yardage.”
Reid used the recent games to evaluate Allen’s effectiveness, and a fully healthy Allen proved hard to keep out of the lineup, which led to Sunday’s change along the offensive line.
“I wanted to see how he handled that because it’s different in practice than it is in a game because it’s live,” Reid said. “It looked like he was able to push off it and put himself in a position here to actually go four quarters. That was the reason why we went with it.”
Allen, who played with a brace on his right knee, had to overcome plenty of obstacles before he returned to the starting lineup.
He had to recover from the knee injury, and then show he could handle the physical punishment that comes with his position.
And now that Allen is back, it doesn’t appear he will be willing to give up his spot anytime soon.
“I wouldn’t say redemption, but I got an opportunity,” Allen said. “I’ve been hurt for a while, so being able to go back out there, get another shot at it, it meant a lot to me. I took some pride with that. I wanted to go out there and show that I’m a good player.”