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Jets move Antonio Allen back to safety

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Robert Woods, left, catches

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Robert Woods, left, catches a pass in front of Jets' Antonio Allen for a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014, in East Rutherford. Credit: AP / Kathy Willens

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - The Jets finally are calling it quits on the Antonio Allen Experiment.

After weeks of playing the third-year defensive back at cornerback, Rex Ryan said Allen will be moved back to his original position of safety.

And truth be told, it's somewhat of a relief for Allen.

"It'll definitely be comfortable taking some of the load off me,'' he said after Thursday's practice. "But I did whatever I could do at corner and I did it to the best of my ability. And I'm going to do the same at safety when I move back.''

Ryan benched Allen in favor of Josh Thomas during last week's 24-10 loss to the Chiefs. The coach's reason for doing so?

"I wanted to stop somebody,'' Ryan said after the game. "Nothing about him . . . I thought that putting Thomas out there gave us our best shot.''

Asked Thursday about his benching, Allen said: "I did everything I could do.''

Though the Jets raved about Allen's versatility in the offseason and Ryan boasted about what he termed his "Pro Bowl'' ability at the safety position, the coaching staff chose to convert Allen to cornerback to make up for the team's deficiencies at the position.

The Jets entered training camp expecting Dee Milliner and free-agent pickup Dimitri Patterson to be their starters. But Patterson (who went AWOL) was gone before the regular season even began and Milliner suffered a torn Achilles tendon in Week 6 that ended his year.

The season-ending ACL injury suffered by third-round pick Dexter McDougle also complicated matters. So, too, did John Idzik's unwillingness to sign a quality cornerback in the offseason.

The Jets (1-8) are ranked 19th in passing defense, allowing 252.2 yards per game. And because of their issues at cornerback, they've had to play a lot of zone coverage.

"I'd be shocked if we weren't playing way more zone than we ever have,'' Ryan said.

Last month, defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman defended the team's decision to play Allen out of position because of the 26-year-old's versatility.

"If you have it, you have to take advantage of it,'' Thurman said. "What we're trying to do is put our pieces in place to do jobs that we need done. When you look at this young man, he is a talented kid, so we are trying to utilize him the best way to fit our defense, just like an offense would do to try to enhance their offensive capabilities.''

On Thursday, however, Thurman sounded far less enthusiastic about the move.

"Well, he has tried everything that we have asked him to do,'' he said of Allen, a seventh-round pick in 2012. "It was a tough move in the first place, one that we were looking at to try and see if he could do it. We have moved him back to safety and we'll see how he does.''

Ryan and the Jets raved about Allen last season, even as they drastically cut his playing time after acquiring free-agent safety Ed Reed in mid-November. And though the future Hall of Famer recorded three interceptions in the month of December, Reed often hindered the secondary's play because of his poor tackling.

For a second straight season, the Jets have impeded the progress of Allen, an athletic and physical player who has been effective against big-name tight ends. And he's often been unfairly judged within the Jets' chaotic secondary.

"That's how the game goes,'' Allen said. "People are forced to be in positions they're not used to. You could complain about it or you could just be quiet and go to work as usual. And that's what I came and did.

"Like I said, I did my best,'' he added. "I probably gave up a touchdown every game, but hey. That was a sacrifice I was willing to give up. That's what it is.''

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