CORTLAND, N.Y. - "Double A'' vs. A.J. It's a matchup that intrigues Rex Ryan yet makes him a little nervous.
Only days after being introduced to the cornerback position, third-year safety Antonio Allen could find himself lined up against one of the NFL's best wide receivers, A.J. Green of the Bengals, in Saturday's preseason game in Cincinnati.
The Jets were forced to make the position switch after their secondary was depleted by injury: corners Dee Milliner (ankle sprain) and Dexter McDougle (ACL tear) went down Sunday, while Dimitri Patterson has been nursing quadriceps, calf and ankle injuries.
So when was the first time Allen thought he could be an NFL cornerback?
"Yesterday, probably,'' he said with a laugh, adding that Ryan told him about the switch before Monday's practice.
Allen impressed in his first day as a corner, intercepting two passes in team drills. On Tuesday, however, Eric Decker beat him for a 10-yard touchdown. Nevertheless, Allen has been turning heads at his new position.
Although Ryan initially wouldn't commit to starting Allen at corner against the Bengals, he eventually relented. "You know what, I think he probably will,'' he said, smiling. "What the heck, let's put him out there.''
And that's A-OK with "Double A.''
Said Allen: "Whatever helps the team, I'm down for.''
Allen, a former hybrid linebacker/safety at South Carolina, was drafted in the seventh round by the Jets in 2012. Ryan considers him "a steal'' and said as a safety Allen "might have been the best player'' on a South Carolina defense that featured Jadeveon Clowney, Melvin Ingram and Stephon Gilmore.
Hours after his first practice at cornerback, Ryan was raving about Allen. When asked Tuesday about a potential Allen vs. Green matchup, Ryan said: "Well, if he can cover that kid, then he can cover them all. I think then we'd know we're in good shape because that guy is about as good as it gets. I think our entire fan base would sleep a lot better.''
Allen offered a more measured take on his first game playing corner.
"Let's just see what happens,'' he said. "I'm going to get out there and make some plays. I know that. I'm going out there confident and no holds barred.''