COSTA MESA, Calif. — Three days of Chargers training camp, and there is one common denominator; the connection between Justin Herbert and Keenan Allen is at an all-time high.
During an 11-on-11 portion of practice, Herbert dropped back and threw a pass to Allen between Michael Davis and Alohi Gilman; it was completed. The fans in attendance erupted with cheers.
“It was just a dime,” Allen explained. “[Herbert] kind of made it easy on me; he threw it to the back of [the defender’s] head. He put it up high and let me go up and get it. That’s what you want.”
Later, Herbert took the snap while Allen faked out Asante Samuel Jr. and caught a pass from his quarterback as soon as he turned his head.
“There’s just that unspoken chemistry on the field that you need, based on all of the different things that you’re going to see — little things that you can’t see from 10,000 feet, but when you’re out there, and it’s moving fast, you have to have that special connection,” head coach Brandon Staley said.
It seems like if Herbert and Allen were asked to play with blindfolds on, they could still feel each other on the field.
“It’s what it looks like,” Allen said. “We work hard, man. It’s what we do. He’s a great passer. I play receiver pretty well [laughter], you put those two together, and you’ve got a pretty good little combo.”
This combination has only grown since Herbert was a rookie. There was a game that season against the New York Jets where Allen had his back turned in the end zone with a cornerback draped over him. Herbert had confidence in Allen, so he threw it, and Allen was able to make the touchdown grab.
Since Herbert’s rookie year, the two have connected 268 times for 2,845 yards and 18 touchdowns. The fourth-year quarterback has also found Allen 39 times in the last two seasons to convert a third down into a first.
Allen is heading into year 11, and it doesn’t seem like he is slowing down.
“Keenan Allen looks like he always does,” Staley said.
He has been making all kinds of great catches during camp. Whether it is a screen, a slant, or a deep pass, Allen is coming down with it.
Allen going down the field more will be seen a lot in Kellen Moore’s offense this season.
“Kellen is definitely opening the playbook up a little bit early in camp and letting Justin throw it down the field,” Allen said.
Staley mentioned that the leadership of Allen has stood out to him. He has been great with first-round pick Quentin Johnston the same way he was with Mike Williams in 2017 and even with Herbert in 2020.
He has watched the young quarterback go from rookie of the year to being the highest-paid player in the NFL, for now.
“By putting on a clinic,” Allen said about Herbert’s growth. “He’s not really missing; he’s not missing passes. He’s able to see things at the line of scrimmage now. We’re doing these check calls, and he can kind of see the defense, see them do things and get into his own play. He’s growing a lot.”
Staley, Moore, and the offense know that if the combination of Herbert and Allen continues during the season, the offense could be in for a big season.
The Chargers receiver is in great shape and worked hard during the offseason to prepare for camp. He is ready to show why he is one of the best in the NFL.
“I still think I have a chip on my shoulder, still something to prove,” Allen said.