Raiders-Chargers matchup No. 3: Adams vs. Allen

Raiders-Chargers matchup No. 3: Phillip Adams vs. Keenan Allen

Raiders-Chargers matchup No. 3: Adams vs. Allen
December 19, 2013, 6:00 pm
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He’s been really a red zone threat. He’s also been a guy that’s been a down the field threat for them. He’s really improved as a receiver, and it looks like the quarterback is comfortable throwing him the ball.
Dennis Allen on Keenan Allen

Editor’s note: This is the first part in a series that spotlights three Raiders-Chargers matchups to watch Sunday, 1:25 p.m., at Qualcomm Stadium.

Raiders CB Phillip Adams vs. Chargers WR Keenan Allen

Tale of the tape:

Adams (28): 5-foot-11, 195 pounds, fourth season, South Carolina State
Allen (13): 6-foot-2, 211 pounds, rookie season, California-Berkeley

San Diego Chargers rookie receiver Keenan Allen didn’t adhere himself to his new home crowd this offseason, when he posted a selfie rocking a Raiders hat.

Chargers fans were up in arms over the perceived slight despite the fact that Allen went to Cal-Berkeley, near Raider Nation’s capital off 66th Ave.

Thanks to a standout season, rookie mistakes have been forgiven. The third-round draft pick has 931 receiving yards and seven touchdowns in 13 games played, which erased bad memories fast. Allen leads the Chargers in both categories, and is ever-so-close to franchise record for receiving yards by a rookie.

Of late, Allen’s has become quarterback Philip Rivers’ go-to guy on the outside.

“Each week he’s gotten better and better,” Chargers head coach Mike McCoy said. “He’s gotten more opportunities in what we’re doing.”

His opportunities are often explosive. He has 15 catches of 20-plus yards, a cause for concern against a Raiders defense suddenly prone to allowing big plays. Cornerback Phillip Adams will try to keep Allen from making them.

[RELATED: Former Cal WR Keenan Allen uses draft snub as fuel]

Adams subs in at right outside corner in the nickel package, when Tracy Porter slides into the slot. Adams will play a ton on Sunday because San Diego most always lines up in a three-receiver set, and match up mostly against Allen. 

Adams has played decent coverage but his tackling remains suspect after missing nine in six games. The matchup with Allen will be difficult, but he must do well on his own. The Chargers have too many other weapons, especially with tight end Antonio Gates in the middle to bring consistent safety help. Adams and at times Porter must be on their toes because the Chargers like the ball in Allen’s hands.

“He’s played exceptionally well, and they get him the ball in a lot of different ways,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. “He’s been really a red zone threat. He’s also been a guy that’s been a down the field threat for them. He’s really improved as a receiver, and it looks like the quarterback is comfortable throwing him the ball. He’s a big target so that makes it tough because he’s a big target and he’s athletic and he’s got a big catching radius. When you have those types of things, it makes it comfortable for the quarterback.”

The Chargers knew they had something special in Allen, but the NFL wasn’t sure until this season’s first meeting with the Chargers.

Allen had six catches for a then-career-high 115 yards and a touchdown on Oct. 6, largely against Raiders first-round draft pick D.J. Hayden. It put Allen on the map and was a breakout moment for this rookie-of-the-year candidate.

“It did a great deal for my confidence,” Keenan Allen said. “That was my first touchdown game. I was able to build confidence off of that and Phil was able to build some confidence with me too so he just kept throwing me the ball from that game and that was also my college town so I happened to play pretty good.”

The Raiders will do everything possible to ensure that doesn’t happen again.