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Devon Allen, ready to fly with the Philadelphia Eagles, still sees the trail of his future

No, the 110m Olympic hurdles Devon Allen hasn’t run for any of his new teammates since signing with the Philadelphia Eagles in April.

“As a professional track and field athlete, I don’t run for free,” Allen said with a laugh. “I was like, ‘Okay, we’ll race but for $10,000 a race,’ and nobody told me that yet.”

And no, Allen didn’t have the opportunity to face a defensive back.

“The funny thing is, I feel like people kind of know I’m the hurdler,” he said, “so they’re not going to put me down.”

But the 27-year-old rookie NFL wide receiver has proven to himself that he belongs on a football field.

“I know it’s been a while since I’ve played football, but I’ve played it my whole life,” Allen said in a video interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia from his apartment in Annapolis, Maryland. “I hope it will be like riding a bike.”

Allen, who will race the reigning world champion Grant Holloway in the USATF NYC 110m Hurdles Grand Prix on Sunday (4-6 p.m. ET on NBC, NBCSports.com/live, NBC Sports app and Peacock), delicately balances his passions for football and athletics.

He competed in both sports at the University of Oregon, leading the Ducks with seven touchdown receptions as a redshirt rookie in 2014. After finishing fifth at the 2016 Rio Games, he returned to college football until he tore his left ACL and MCL and suffered meniscus pain. damage in a non-contact injury defending a punt return in a game on September 17, 2016.

He turned professional on track in November 2016 and circled 2020 as the year for his return to football, but when the Tokyo Games were postponed to 2021 he had to wait another year.

“It took five years and now I’m here,” said Allen, who missed an Olympic medal by four hundredths of a second in Tokyo.

Allen caught the Eagles’ attention after clocking 4.35 seconds in the 40-yard dash on Oregon’s pro day in April, although he hasn’t played football since. 2016. Within 20 minutes, Allen was on the phone with the Eagles general manager. Howie Roseman.

“It’s nice to go somewhere where you’re wanted,” Allen said, adding that “a few” other teams have shown interest as well.

His return to football had a false start.

On May 29, just hours before his scheduled departure for the Eagles’ Organized Team Activities (OTAs), he tested positive for COVID-19 for the first time. Symptoms were mild, but rather than running routes for the Eagles quarterback Jalen hurtsAllen had to settle for catching passes from his track coach, Jamie Cook.

“I haven’t been with an NFL-caliber quarterback since I was in college,” Allen said.

Allen had the chance to bond with his new teammates away from the football field.

When Allen broke the Penn Relays 110m hurdles record on April 30, several Eagles were in attendance. His pre-race dinner? A crawfish boil hosted by Hurts.

“[Hurts] told me the second, third, and fourth batches were going to be a lot spicier than the first, and he wasn’t lying,” Allen said. “I was definitely feeling it the following days.”

For the next two months, Allen will focus primarily on the track. His goal is to finish in the top three at the USATF Outdoor Championships (June 23-26) to qualify for the World Championships (July 15-24). Both encounters take place at his old college in Eugene, Oregon.

Allen would have signed a three-year contract with the Eagles, but he will still have to earn a place on the list.

Once the Eagles open training camp on July 26, he plans to hang up his running spikes until after the Super Bowl, assuming he makes the team. Then, if all goes according to plan, he would compete on track in the 2023 NFL offseason and return to football for training camp.

“The training is similar,” Allen said. “I train to be as explosive and strong as possible on the track, and that’s pretty much what I will do with football.”

The biggest challenges for Allen in transitioning to football have been learning the playbook and the running routes that require a change of pace.

“I raced on track, so it’s not like I stopped a lot,” Allen said.

The 6-foot, 190-pound Allen compared his game to the Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefan Diggs and Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase.

Allen said he “likes to think” he’ll be the fastest player in the NFL, although he admitted losing a run to the Miami Dolphins’ wide receiver. Tyreek Hill at secondary school.

“I could see myself as a major deep threat early on,” Allen said. “I mean, it’s something I’m good at. I can run. There is no doubt in my mind.

“I’m a lot more physical than people realize, and I’m excited to be doing it again. It’s something that I missed.

Allen was impressed with his new teammates. This offseason, the Eagles have acquired wide receivers A.J. Brown and pascal pascal To accompany DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins and Greg Ward.

“I think we definitely have the fastest receiver corps in the NFL and probably one of the best receiver rooms in the NFL as well,” he said.

Allen says he’s in the best shape of his life, having run a personal best 100m in April and the third fastest 110m hurdles of the year at the Penn Relays.

“My job is going to be the fast guy,” Allen said. “I’m one of the fastest men in the world so I have to be able to show that on the pitch.”

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Devon Allen, ready to fly with the Philadelphia Eagles, still sees the trail of his future originally appeared on NBCSports.com