Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel sees a different level of respect these days for free safety Ricardo Allen.

When the Falcons are in their Cover 3 scheme, with Allen responsible for the deep middle, Manuel doesn't see opposing quarterbacks testing Allen too often, if at all.

"They tried earlier when he first started," Manuel said, referring to Allen's initial transition from cornerback to free safety. "They see now that he's where he's supposed to be when he's supposed to be there. And he's understanding how to get there. So it's been very, very, very [good] on his part, the hours that he's put in understanding quarterbacks, understanding tendencies and things of that nature. I think they understand that it's not even worth trying him because this guy is on it."

Allen's reliability at his position is part of the reason the Falcons have made defensive strides going into Sunday's matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Falcons rank seventh in the NFL in pass defense, allowing 200.8 passing yards per game. They've allowed 21 completions of 20-plus yards, which is among the top-five best in the league.

It helps the pass defense when a guy such as defensive end Adrian Clayborn has a franchise-record six-sack outing, as he did against Dallas. And one-time Pro Bowl cornerback Desmond Trufant, who had an interception at Seattle last week, always is capable of shutting down one side of the field when he's on top of his game. But Manuel said don't discount Allen's impact in that "eraser" role, preventing those explosive plays.