Vikings defensive end Jared Allen is back at Winter Park this week for the team’s second week of Organized Team Activities. Still rehabilitating his left shoulder, on which he had surgery in February to repair a torn labrum, Allen is spending most of his time with the training staff and won't be back in a practice setting until training camp opens in Mankato next month. But just being around, Allen said, has proven encouraging with the Vikings’ impressive attendance and on-field effort hopefully providing a springboard into the 2013 season.
“Everybody’s working hard,” Allen said. “They’re flying around here at a fast tempo. … It’s just fun to see everybody and see the demeanor, especially the new guys. We had three first-round picks. We’re going to count on them to make some plays for us, so it’s good to see everybody out there working and starting to get that camaraderie.”
Allen said he feels he has about 97 percent flexibility back in his shoulder and is building his strength back up. And the only setback he had in the shoulder came shortly after he got out of his sling and was messing around in the water in Hawaii.
“You’re like floating and you don’t think anything, and I got up and tried to move my shoulder and I was like, ‘Ahhhhhh!’ So your body tells you there’s nothing to do,” Allen said.
Naturally, Allen’s session with reporters on Wednesday afternoon veered toward his contract situation, with the Pro Bowl end entering the final year of his deal. He will make more than $14.2 million this season and then return to the negotiating table, curious to see if he still has a place with the Vikings in 2014 and beyond. Last month, we spoke at length to Allen about the dynamics of his current situation. And what he made perfectly clear again Wednesday is that he has no bitterness towards the organization in being left to prove himself in a contract year.
In fact, Allen insisted he takes great pride in the idea that both he and the Vikings are sticking to the six-year contract they agreed to when he joined the franchise in 2008.
“Then everybody comes to the table at the same place,” Allen said. “A lot of guys try to get more money before [their deal is up]. Hey, I signed a contract for six years. They signed a contract for six years. It’s very, very rare when both sides honor that. A lot of guys get let go in the last year or restructure the last year. Or for example guys play one good year and they want to re-up. So, for me, this is the commitment I made. Let me honor that. They want to honor it. So that’s great for me. I have no beefs, quarrels, no nothing.”
As for whether Allen would be open to negotiating an extension once the season starts, the veteran standout seemed far more interested in letting the season play out in full before returning his focus to business.
“I have rules about how I go about [things],” Allen said. “When its football time, it’s football time. If I go out and I’m worried about negotiations back and forth, then I’m not focused on my job and I’m letting me teammates down. … Honestly that’s something that’s going to take place between my representative and them. It’s very open. We’re very transparent here. [General Manager] Rick Spielman and I, we’re all on the same page.
“It all depends. I can’t say yes. I can’t say no. But we’re in football time right now, so my worry, like I’ve said in every interview I’ve done, my first responsibility to this team and myself is to make sure I’m healthy, is to make sure I’m on top of my rehab to make sure I can come back in the greatest shape I can be in. And then make sure when I get back on the field, you’re dominating people and you’re performing at a level that I expect to perform at. That’s my one priority.”