Final game plan has Kleinsasser's number on it

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 28, 2011 - 11:01 PM

After 13 blue-collar seasons in the Twin Cities, Vikings tight end Jim Kleinsasser will play his 181st and final regular-season game Sunday.


Look for Jim Kleinsasser’s name to be called Sunday in the final game of his 13-season Vikings career.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

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After 13 blue-collar seasons in the Twin Cities, Vikings tight end Jim Kleinsasser will play his 181st and final regular-season game Sunday. It's a nostalgic storyline that hasn't gone over the head of Leslie Frazier, who vowed to reward the soon-to-be-retired Kleinsasser if at all possible against the Bears.

"No doubt about it," Frazier said. "I'm not letting out any secrets there. If we get down to the 1 [yard line], Chicago, you better stop number 40. We're going to find a way to try to get him into the end zone if we can."

Frazier called Kleinsasser "a team player in every sense of the word" and also described him as loyal, hard working and "tough as nails."

"He's someone you can always count on," Frazier said. "You know he's going to come to work prepared, ready to do his job. He's a tremendous example for any young player coming into the league with his work ethic and the way he approaches things."

Kleinsasser, who will turn 35 next month, said he is at peace with his decision to walk away and delivered some simple advice to young players trying to match his longevity.

"Just go every day like you're going to get cut," Kleinsasser said. "Everything you do, you've got to prove yourself each and every play. That's the biggest thing, always be looking out for yourself and taking care of your business."

Resistant to change

With so much focus already directed toward next season, defensive end Jared Allen was asked his thoughts on the potential of the Vikings switching to a 3-4 defense in 2012, a system change that might require him to convert from being a true defensive end into more of a rush linebacker.

Allen doesn't see that change being made without his input being solicited first.

"I know we have enough mutual respect that they would at least give me a heads-up and give me an option of what I would want to do," he said.

As for trying to adapt to a new way of life in the 3-4?

"I don't see that in the future," Allen said. "If I was halfway through my career, that would be something different. But defensive end is where I've made my mark. I like what I play, what I do. I like that art form."

Injury update

Right guard Anthony Herrera was the only Viking to miss practice Wednesday, still dealing with a lower-back injury suffered last weekend. Frazier said he expects Herrera to make a quick recovery and be available to play against Chicago.

Fellow guard Steve Hutchinson, meanwhile, was put on injured reserve Tuesday, leaving Joe Berger in line to start in his place for the finale. Rookie Brandon Fusco could also see work at either guard position. Fusco has been solid in the limited action he's seen in two games.

Greenway's the Man

Linebacker Chad Greenway has been selected as the 2011 Vikings Community Man of the Year. Greenway has been active with numerous local organizations including United Way, Make-A-Wish Foundation of Minnesota, Memorial Blood Centers and University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital. He also continues to help families in need through his Lead the Way Foundation.

Harvin also honored

Percy Harvin received the Korey Stringer Good Guy Award on Wednesday, an honor bestowed upon a Vikings player who has shown admirable cooperation and accountability with the local media.

Harvin has made a concerted effort to be more open and available with the press, drawing from lessons he learned from guys such as former teammate Sidney Rice.

Said Harvin: "One of the things they all said was, 'Be a man. When you stand up, people can appreciate that more.' So after a win or a loss I try to always be there to let people know what's going on."

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