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Marquand Manuel has high praise for Ricardo Allen

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He thinks competition will bring out the best in #37.

NFL: Super Bowl LI-New England Patriots vs Atlanta Falcons Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Ricardo Allen has beaten the odds several times in his career already. A fifth round pick at cornerback who actually got cut from the team and signed to the practice squad, he had to stay on the squad without getting picked up by another team, survive a change in coaching staffs, switch to safety, win and keep a starting job. He may not be done fighting for that job, but you gotta recognize the man is one hell of a competitor.

While we all expect Allen to have legitimate competition this year, he’s got Marquand Manuel in his corner. The new defensive coordinator was pretty effusive about his young safety in remarks to the press last week.

"I think you're going to see some big things this year," Manuel said of Allen. "That competition breeds greatness. I solely believe that. For a guy like him, competition ... man, we talked about it like, 'Hey, welcome. We've got depth now.' Now we're going to go out here and do what we've got to do."

Allen’s taken his fair share of guff from the fanbase over the last couple of seasons, but the truth is that he’s been a solid starter at worst that entire time, and he’s still young enough to have untapped upside we haven’t seen yet. If he really takes the job, runs with it, and improves even over 2016, we’ll all be pretty thrilled. It’s worth noting that many analysts are very fond of Allen.

It’s a given that Allen’s going to face competition this year, and that Brian Poole or Damontae Kazee could be a serious threat to his starting job in 2018. This year, though, he appears to have Manuel in his corner and a straightforward path to a starting gig. Expect to see him out there in Week 1.