MANKATO – Jared Allen had one predominant wish for Friday’s preseason opener against Houston.
“I’m hoping I’m not playing,” he said before Tuesday’s practice. “I can have a day off.”
That wish was going to be granted anyway. But now Allen almost certainly will miss Wednesday’s work and be held out into next week after rolling his left ankle in the latter stages of practice.
Allen suffered his injury during two-minute work Tuesday and spent the last half-hour of practice in the trainer’s tent. He later limped to the locker room with his ankle wrapped. And coach Leslie Frazier said further examination would be needed to determine whether Allen needs an MRI.
Allen wasn’t the only defensive starter to come up lame Tuesday. Middle linebacker Erin Henderson was dealing with groin soreness and was limited in practice. And safety Harrison Smith twisted a knee and was held out thereafter.
Smith ran to the locker room after practice, his injury not seeming all that worrisome.
“It doesn’t seem that way watching him move around,” Frazier said. “But you never know. So they’re going to check it out to make sure.”
Frazier has a list of players he’s planning to hold out of Friday’s game with the Texans as a precaution but won’t reveal that plan until after Wednesday’s practice.
Allen iffy about rotation
Assuming Allen’s ankle injury isn’t serious, the five-time Pro Bowler has made it clear that once the regular season starts, he has little desire to come off the field unless absolutely necessary. So while chatter continues to swirl about the Vikings’ defensive line depth and the impressive rotation that might blossom, Allen hopes all the in-and-out switching occurs elsewhere.
“For six years I’ve been facing this question: Am I rotating?” Allen said. “And I think I’ve won the battle most of the time. So we’ll see. … My philosophy is that when [opposing offenses] start rotating left tackles, then they can start rotating me.”
Coming off a 2012 season in which he was slowed by injuries to his left shoulder and right knee, Allen is eager to return to top form. And this defensive line unit, he believes, has the potential to be the best he’s ever been a part of. At present, Everson Griffen, Sharrif Floyd, Fred Evans and Lawrence Jackson are all backups with Brian Robison, Kevin Williams and Letroy Guion starting.
That should give the Vikings an ability to create plenty of mismatches. Still, Allen hopes any rotation that’s used won’t disrupt the line’s rhythm.
“When you rotate too many people, if I don’t know where you’re going to be, I can’t rush the way I want to rush,” Allen said. “Half the time you’ll get a sack, because you’re playing off of somebody.”
The Wright stuff
With all the talk about new Viking receivers Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson, second-year weapon Jarius Wright might ultimately be an X-factor in elevating the passing attack. On Tuesday, offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave lauded Wright’s behind-the-scenes investment in learning. Wright, Musgrave said, has quickly emerged as a leader, even though his résumé includes only seven NFL games with 22 catches for 210 yards.
“I’m surprised with what Jarius did when he was called to duty last year after Percy [Harvin’s] injury,” Musgrave said. “From running scout team, he hit the ground running. Very sharp and he’s just grown from there. … He has tremendous instincts. He’s a professional. In studying this stuff, he’s just a man’s man.”