SAN DIEGO -- Rather than sitting and watching, San Diego Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen has been playing and producing.
The third-round draft pick from Cal wasn't expected to do much this season. With veterans Danario Alexander, Malcom Floyd and Vincent Brown in front of him, Allen was to take a back seat for his rookie season.
Alexander was lost for the year with a knee injury in offseason workouts, and Floyd suffered a season-ending neck injury in a win over Philadelphia on Sept. 15.
"I thought I was just going to come in and be a role guy and do whatever I could to be a part of the team," Allen said. "If it was waiting the whole year behind those guys, I was going to have to do that."
Roles change quickly in the NFL. After having only three catches during the first three games, Allen has come on strong and has 23 catches for 332 yards and two touchdowns.
With nine catches for 107 yards and a touchdown in Monday night's 19-9 win against Indianapolis, Allen became the second rookie in team history, after Don Norton in 1960, to have consecutive 100-yard receiving games. Allen had six catches for 115 yards and a touchdown in a loss at Oakland a week earlier.
"He has a great ability to go get the ball," Brown said. "He has really stepped up."
There were questions about Allen's knee coming out of Cal, after he hurt it late last season. That caused him to slip to the 76th pick in the draft, and the Chargers (3-3) were thrilled he was available.
When exiting Cal after his junior season, Allen had caught a school-record 205 passes for 2,570 yards, which was third in Bears history.
After an uneven summer, Allen has shown strides getting to the proper spots at the appropriate time.
"It was a learning curve for me to get comfortable for the games and trying to find the right angles and a lot of things," Allen said. "That is what the preseason is for."
But the lessons continue. When Allen pulled up on a go-route in Monday's victory, it looked as if quarterback Philip Rivers had overthrown his target. Instead, it was Allen's miscue, one that didn't go unnoticed by rookie coach Mike McCoy.
"I had done the same thing in practice," Allen said. "It was my mistake and I had to learn from it."
McCoy, though, mentioned how receptive Allen is to coaching. Brown sees the same thing.
"He's very coachable," Brown said.
That's all part of being a pro, Allen said.
"It's about being mentally tough, being confident and having trust in your coaches that they are going to help you," Allen said.
Allen has helped himself to more playing time and it's paying off for him and the Chargers.