ENGLEWOOD — I know plenty about Allens. I wrote about Marcus Allen when he played for the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders. I have referenced this Woody Allen quote in conversation: "I'm not afraid of death; I just don't want to be there when it happens." And I have watched plenty of Tim Allen sitcoms and movies.
But Broncos quarterback Brandon Allen? Well....
My mental cupboard is relatively bare. I know he started three years at the University of Arkansas, threw a school-record seven touchdowns against Mississippi State, visited a hand masseuse who stretched his mitts from 8 1/2 inches at the Senior Bowl, smallest among all quarterbacks, to 8 7/8 inches a month later at the NFL combine and was an extra in an "America's Got Talent" sketch during the Los Angeles Rams training camp last summer.
After that, well, I've got nothing.
Luckily his head coach and teammates know a little more.
"I think he has a good feel for the game. I don't think the game will be too big or him. He has a little bit of that 'It' factor," said coach Vic Fangio of Allen, who has never taken an NFL snap. "I believe he will play well. I think he will be fine."
Cautious optimism remains the only public option when discussing Allen. The Broncos have no choice. He's playing. Joe Flacco is sidelined with a neck injury, is expected to go on the injured reserve and might never play another snap for Denver. Allen is a sixth-round choice living out a dream. These kinds of stories sprout from time to time. Gardner Minshew of mustache fame is a sixth-round selection winning games for the Jaguars. Crazier things have happened. Phillip Lindsay has been impressed with Allen.
"I was shocked and surprised when he got here how he got the terminology so fast," said Lindsay of Allen, who was claimed off waivers from the Rams. "I am excited to see what he has to offer. I think he's going to move around and take shots."
Lindsay maintains his stance that the offense should be more aggressive. Flacco shredded the fourth-quarter game plan last Sunday, saying the team was "afraid to lose." Will it look differently under Allen? Allen brings mobility, but he will have to microwave his chemistry with receivers.
"Timing," Courtland Sutton, "is everything."
Harris on future
Star cornerback Chris Harris Jr. walked to the podium in Denver on Wednesday. He was happy to be there. He wanted to finish out this season with the Broncos, the team's decision to keep him creating anxiety amplified by his wife expecting the couple's fourth baby girl.
Harris did not rule out re-signing with the Broncos as a free agent. General manager John Elway said during his weekly 850 KOA radio segment that he hoped to work out a deal to keep Harris. Gaps must bridged after the sides failed to gain traction on an extension last winter. But Harris is keeping an open mind.
"That's a lot better than what I've heard in the past. It's good to definitely know they want me to be here," Harris said. "As a player you always want to feel appreciated."
Fangio on Lock
Rookie quarterback Drew Lock hung out during the Broncos stretch Wednesday, talking with Allen and Rypien. He won't begin practicing until after the bye week. Fans want to see him start now. That is not realistic after missing 10 weeks. He requires reps. As such, Fangio doesn't share the fans' sense of urgency.
"I don't have the sense of urgency for the simple reason that this guy hasn't done anything since early in camp," Fangio said. "He needs practice. We have a plan to when we want to start that, and we'll move forward with that."
Star linebacker Von Miller did not practice today for the first time since August. He was in sweats, watching drills. ... Fangio said it's 50-50 that right tackle Ja'Wuan James plays this week after re-injuring his sprained left knee. While this aggravation was not as serious as the original injury, it would be a surprise if James plays. ... The Broncos face a Cleveland team that leads the league in penalties accepted and ranks second in penalty yardage. ... Receiver Tim Patrick (hand) began practicing today. He's expected to come off the IR and play against Minnesota.