Antonio Allen depended on Josh Bush during his rookie season last year.
The two were both first-year safeties, seventh and sixth round picks, respectively. Both were learning a complicated new system that demanded a speedy learning curve. Both were parsing a giant playbook.
And, of course, Bush had a car. Allen did not.
"He was the one who drove us from the facility and back to the hotel," Allen said, laughing. "So we're pretty tight."
Now the two are direct competitors for the second safety spot along with former second-round pick and Eagles castaway Jaiquawn Jarrett. Defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman declared as much last week during a conference call with season-ticket holders, saying that the starter alongside Dawan Landry will be determined through the offseason.
Offseason training activities begin for the Jets today.
Allen said that Thurman never told the safeties directly about a competition although it was apparent early on this offseason. Dueling reps have become a running scorecard between the two.
"I can see it out there on the field, you know?" Allen said. "He takes me out, puts Josh in. He takes Josh out, puts me in. So, it's a healthy competition at the end of the day."
He hopes his ability as a playmaker can stand out during these reps. At South Carolina, he wasn't typically asked to be a pure safety and is still adjusting to the position. He appeared in seven games last year, mostly on special teams, and recovered a fumble. Bush appeared in all 16, also largely in a special teams role.
Allen knows Bush would still give him a lift if need be, though. They remain friends despite the competition, one of at least eight open battles that will determine opening-day starters.
"I'm all up for it," Allen said. "We're all close in the DB room but obviously someone needs to get the start. I'm just trying to come here and compete. I just try and do what I do best, and that's make plays.
"Hopefully, me doing that will lock down that position."