"He's with the Florida side of my family. We've got a lot of family out there on the Florida side," Allen said. "Even when I was coming out (for the draft as a junior) he had me on his show out there in Dallas."
Allen said he talks with Irvin every so often, but the rookie isn't expecting much insight from Irvin regarding the current Dallas Cowboys team. Irvin, a member of the 2007 Hall of Fame class, completed his NFL playing days in 1999 after being named to five Pro Bowls and the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1990s.
"When he was playing, I know it was a whole different offense than obviously now," Allen said. "(The Cowboys) will probably tell him some stuff, but they won't tell him everything.
"I'm probably going to talk to him later on this week. Talk some trash, that's about it."
Interestingly, Irvin's NFL career started the same year that Allen was born – 1988 – so the past for the Cowboys isn't nearly as important right now for Allen as the modern-day team he will be facing.
The Cowboys finished the season 11-5 and have won their last four in a row, including a upsetting the previously unbeaten New Orleans Saints on Dec. 19, posting back-to-back shutouts against NFC East rivals Washington and Philadelphia, and the dispatching of the Eagles again in wild card round of the playoffs.
"I see a team with a lot of confidence," Allen said of the Cowboys. "With every game you obviously gain a lot of confidence because you're actually doing it out there, you're actually playing a game. The more and more you get reps, you get confident. I'm seeing a team right now that, even though years past they probably weren't doing this good around this time, right now they're just playing lights out. I think it's just a confidence starting with (QB Tony) Romo. He seems like he's playing really, really good ball. And again, whenever your defense is stopping the team to shutouts, that's obviously a confidence-booster to the whole team, special teams included."
Allen knows something about special teams, too, since he needed to commit to that before he was given a chance to play this year. The third-round pick was inactive for the first six games of the season. Since then, however, he has played in each of the last 10 games.
So what allowed Allen to become a contributing part of the defense in his rookie season?
"For me, it was just special teams. Now that I've gotten the chance to prove that I can play special teams, that's the reason why I've been able to be up and play nickel. It was never a problem about defense – can you play defense?" he said. "But I think it was just, can you be consistent during special teams. I spent the first six weeks just working at it, working at it. Obviously in college special teams was just like before defense goes out or before offense goes out. You kind of just get it over with, but here obviously they take it more serious. That's pretty much the reason why."
WHAT'S IN THE NUMBERS?
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.