Think back to early August. A sense of panic was in the air for the San Diego Chargers.
Danario Alexander, a wide receiver who had emerged as a rising star in the back end of the previous season, had just torn his ACL in practice.
At the time, the thought was that Malcolm Floyd and Vincent Brown would need to step up lest San Diego's passing attack devolve into farce. Keenan Allen, a promising rookie selected in the third round of April's draft, was a hopeful contributor as he learned the pro game.
Floyd lasted two weeks into the season before a neck injury sent him to injured reserve. Brown has failed to make the expected impact. Allen has thrived, playing a major role in Philip Rivers' career resurgence.
Allen was at it again in Sunday's win over the New York Giants, grabbing two touchdown passes while playing through a painful shoulder injury. He now has 61 catches, setting the Chargers' rookie record of 59 set by LaDainian Tomlinson in 2001. He's on pace for a 75/1,100/6 slash line.
"Keenan has gotten better every week," coach Mike McCoy said, via U-T San Diego. "And we've talked about it every week with him about continuing to build and taking it one day at a time. ... The kid's learning to be a pro, and he'll tell you that he has a long way to go. There are other things he can clean up, but he's done a great job."