CHARLOTTE – Kyle Allen has never lacked confidence.
It’s a quiet confidence, but real confidence nonetheless.
So when things didn’t work out at Texas A&M or at Houston, the former No. 1 high school quarterback prospect entered the draft with plenty of belief in his own abilities.
He kept that belief even when he went undrafted and later when he was waived from Carolina’s practice squad as a rookie.
And now he’s the unquestioned starting quarterback for the Panthers, who are 5-3 ahead of a big matchup at Green Bay.
It’s by no means how Allen would have planned it, with close friend Cam Newton landing on injured reserve due to a nagging foot injury, but one way or another, Allen had a feeling he’d be starting games in the NFL.
“To be honest, I always expected to be in this position,” Allen said Wednesday. “I always thought I was going to be here, even with all that stuff that happened in college. I just kind of expected that at some point I was going to find a way to get back here.”
Allen’s play has been far from flawless, but the fact remains he’s 6-1 as a starter.
Head coach Ron Rivera said he thinks clarity with quarterback situation will help Allen, but the second-year signal caller insists it was never a distraction.
“Nothing has changed. You guys don’t believe me on this, but I prepare the same way every week,” Allen said. “I was never looking over my shoulder, honestly.”
This week is a big one for Allen, who has family from Milwaukee and grew up a Packer fan watching Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers light it up at Lambeau Field.
On Sunday, he’ll step inside frigid Lambeau Field for the first time and duel Rodgers, widely considered the gold standard at the quarterback position.
“Obviously Lambeau Field has so much history behind it. Rodgers is a fantastic player, been playing there forever, a Super Bowl champion. Yeah, there is a lot of cool stuff going on,” Allen said. “But you get caught up in all that and really what it comes down to is the simple stuff and execution.”
The little things – that’s where Allen thinks he’s made considerable strides over the past few weeks.
“That comes with experience,” he said. “Little nuances of the game I’m starting to pick up a little quicker. Decision making is getting faster, I think pocket movement is getting better, execution on offense has just been better.
“As I continue to get games under my belt that’s just going to grow even more.”
Whether it mattered to him or not, Allen is now officially “the guy” for Carolina.
And with that comes pressure to deliver.
“I’m going to give this team everything I have,” Allen said. “It just means I’ve got at least eight games to play to help this team get in the playoffs.”