Ageless Allen always elusive

SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:03 AM ET

He shouldn't still be doing what he's doing, but Damon Allen has an uncanny talent for defying both age and logic.

Allen, the second-leading passer in all of pro football, may not be as quick as he once was, but speed has been replaced by elusiveness.

The arm strength is still more than capable of doing the job, but what he lacks in that department, Allen makes up for in experience and slyness.

At 42, Allen is just as dangerous as ever, and the Edmonton Eskimos know they've got a tough task ahead in defending against the Toronto Argonauts quarterback at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday night.

"Damon gets better every year that goes by. I think he's been better this year than last year, and that's scary when you think about what he did last year," said Esks head coach Danny Maciocia.

"When he's in there, they are a totally different team."

The Argos learned that for themselves last week when backup Michael Bishop started against Montreal. Allen, bothered by a bruised ankle, was healthy enough to come off the bench in the second half and got Toronto in range of a win.

This season, Allen has thrown 14 touchdown tosses against five interceptions. He has the second-best completion rate in the league at 67.2%, behind only Dave Dickenson, and trails only the B.C. pivot in overall quarterback efficiency.

So is there a way to shut down the ageless wonder? Stopping Allen completely is unlikely. The goal will be limiting him as much as possible, starting with his mobility in the backfield.

"We just have to tee off," said Esks rush end Rashad Jeanty. "He's amazing. He's very slippery, and he knows a lot. We've got guys that can run to the ball and cause havoc. We just have to try to keep him in the pocket and not let him scramble."

Sounds like a plan, but there will be times when the wily 21-year veteran will break free, start scurrying around and pinpointing his down-field targets. Limiting Allen's production then becomes an entire defensive effort.

"He throws the ball so well off his feet, but we hope we can keep him one-dimensional," said Jeanty.

"If the DBs can hold their coverage just a little longer it will make it better for the guys up front. We've got to get some more time to rush the passer and get some hits on Damon."

LATE HITS: The Esks got some good news on the injury front yesterday as Ed Hervey's torn right MCL will not require surgery and he may not be lost for the season. "I absolutely see him coming back sometime during the regular season or the playoffs," said Maciocia.


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