Former LSU player hoping to stay home for pro career

Updated: July 31, 2003, 8:32 PM ET

NEW ORLEANS -- Long before Kenderick Allen wore purple and gold he wore black and gold.

In fact, he wore New Orleans Saints' black and gold and found it so comfortable he'd like to slip back into it.

"Our high school colors were black and gold," said Allen, who played for the Bogalusa, La., Lumberjacks. "The Saints used to send us their old pants and we wore them just about my whole time there."

Allen, who played both tackle and defensive end at LSU, joined the Saints as an undrafted rookie free agent -- a tough way to try to earn a spot on a team, but one Allen has handled well.

"He's a very interesting player," said defensive coordinator Rick Venturi. "We need to see more of him, but I can tell you he's quick. He's not just big, he's strong. He has all the tools."

Defensive line coach Sam Clancy is even more excited about Allen. In a training camp that has talent lined up for spots on the defensive line, Clancy said Allen is still attracting attention.

"This is the most competitive my group has ever been," Clancy said. "And he's putting pressure on some of my veterans. I'm surprised he wasn't drafted. He's got the size and strength for the position."

Despite that, Allen has work to do before he'll actually be able to line up in a game.

"He's still a rookie who's got to understand how to play in the NFL," Clancy said.

The coaches have been working with Allen on how to use his hands, Clancy said.

"He'll do it two times and then on the third one he forgets," Clancy said. "He's working on making it an all-the-time thing."

But Allen, 6-foot-6, 318 pounds is making the most of his biggest attribute, Clancy said.

"He's very strong," Clancy said. "When he does it right, it's hard to get him off the ball. He can really plug things up."

This Saturday's scrimmage in Lafayette will and the preseason games will be Allen's chance to move up, Clancy said.

"I hope he'll get a lot of game time," Clancy said. "I want to see him in there, espcially against another team."

Allen is getting a lot of help from the veterans, he said. Something he found surprising.

"That's not what I expected in the NFL," Allen said. "This is for money and I thought everyone would be out for just their selves. But everyone is really willing to help. It's been great."

Allen tries not to look ahead, taking it not just one day at a time, but one practice at a time.

The heat doesn't bother him: he dealt with plenty of that in high school and at LSU. He knows the steps to take: work hard, hustle, try to earn a spot on special teams, always a key for a rookie in making the team.

And he's trying to follow the advice he got from LSU coach Nick Saban.

"He gave me a lot of good advice about working hard and listening," Allen said. "And he told me the less bad things I did the better. So that's what I'm trying to do, no bad things."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index