Head coach Ron Rivera is confident Kyle Allen can help the Washington Football Team's offense against the Los Angeles Rams, but running plays and throwing touchdowns are only part of his job as the starting quarterback.
He'll also need to show his teammates he is someone they can believe in and who can lead them on and off the field. When it comes to leadership, Rivera doesn't seem to have any trepidations with the third-year signal-caller.
"I thought he was very efficient in practice," Rivera said of Allen. "I thought that the guys got behind him."
Allen, who was named the Week 5 starter Wednesday morning, has been thrust into leadership roles throughout his career, even dating back to his time at Texas A&M. He's been asked to do so again, and his coaches and former teammates can vouch for him as being the type of person who can take charge of a team.
"He's tough as nails," Rivera said. "He doesn't say much. He just goes about his business. He's very professional."
Allen faced a similar situation last year with the Carolina Panthers when Cam Newton went down with a Lisfranc fracture. It's tough for a backup quarterback to establish himself as a team leader in the middle of a season; it's even more difficult when he has to replace an NFL MVP and former No. 1 overall pick.
Running back Christian McCaffrey knew Allen could play; he experienced it firsthand when Allen threw for 228 yards and accounted for three touchdowns in a 33-14 win over the New Orleans Saints the previous year. But McCaffrey noticed Allen took "a huge jump in leadership" once he became the Panthers' starter in Week 3.
"You could tell he commanded the huddle great," McCaffrey said on SiriusXM NFL Radio. "He was poised. Anytime something bad happened, he was relaxed. He got us going, and he really took control of the huddle. I think that was something that was so important that...we knew he was going to lead us no matter what."
Allen won his first four starts in 2019, throwing 901 yards and seven touchdowns to help the Panthers jump out to a 4-2 start.
"It's been fun playing with him," McCaffrey said after the Panthers' 16-10 win over the Houston Texans in Week 4. "Obviously, it's a next man-up mentality. Cam brought so much to our offense, so it's cool to see someone who was under his wing for a couple of years come in and do so well."
Allen knew being a leader came with his role as the starting quarterback and tried to take steps towards accomplishing that throughout the season.
"As the weeks go on, I try and take more leadership on," Allen said during the 2019 season. "And I try and put more of that stuff on myself, because the quarterback is the leader of the team. Right now, it's just, 'What could I do better on the field throughout that week?'"
Allen knew what it was like to be the new starting quarterback on a team. After initially losing a competition with Kenny Hill to be the starter at Texas A&M, Allen came in and threw four touchdowns against the No. 3-ranked Auburn Tigers and led the unranked Aggies to a 41-38 victory.
Allen was named the starter the following season, and his teammates like guard Germain Ifedi, who was entering his junior year, had already given their respect to the rising sophomore.
"He went into the fall, he didn't win the job, but he stayed confident and when he was called upon he got in there and was a leader like he never missed a beat," Ifedi told The Eagle. "That's continued to grow this offseason. He's just 19 years old and he sounds like Peyton Manning out there.
"I respect every word he says. I listen to him and I've been here twice as long as he has. If he tells me to do something, or he says this is the way we're going to do something, that's the way we're going to do it."
Now that he is the starting quarterback in Washington, Allen wants to establish a strong connection with his new teammates.
"I think that's my favorite part about football is meeting all these great people," Allen said. "There are a lot of great people on this team, a lot of great dudes. It's easy to play hard. It's easy to get behind those guys. It's easy to root for them. For me, my main goal coming in here from the start was to create as many relationships as possible and to get to know as many people as possible, try to spread the offense as quickly as possible and just enjoy it."
"He's got good command," Thomas said, "and I think the team's got his back as well."
Rivera said Allen is "always the same guy" regardless of the situation. He's smart and well-prepared, too. Those attributes will be useful as Washington gets ready for the second quarter of the season.
"He's not a 'rah-rah' guy as much as he's: 'Come on, let's go get them, let's go do these things,'" Rivera said. "He's a lead-by-example guy."