Jared Allen hasn’t had a chance to show his great ability in rushing the passer in the Vikings’ first two exhibition games, with starters seeing little action against Houston and Buffalo.
But the star defensive end said that after surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder and a torn meniscus in his left knee in the offseason, his health is the best it has been in years.
“I played well last year, but it was definitely a hindrance, but you know what, you have to fight through those things and still get the job done,” Allen said.
Last season the entire defensive line played in a rotation and even Allen, as great a player as he is, spent quite a bit of time on the bench.
“I played quite a bit last year,” he said. “I think I still had more than 1,000 snaps, so again, I just go out and do my thing. We’ll let that sort itself out.”
With cornerback Antoine Winfield gone, the Vikings secondary will be one of the least experienced in the league. Will that cost the team some victories?
“At this point you’re a professional,” Allen said. “You have to play, you’re here because you’re talented and you have to play up to that level. I think it’s important for these guys to understand that we don’t allow youth to be an excuse. They have been working hard, and that’s all we can really ask for.”
The Vikings were 10-6 last season and made the playoffs. Allen believes the Vikings can do as well or better this season.
“If we stay healthy and remain consistent, we have a shot,” he said. “That’s all you can ask for. We have a shot to win games. We have a shot to be good and we have a shot to go to the playoffs and do damage in the playoffs.”
Does Allen think the three defensive linemen who are free agents (Allen, Kevin Williams and Brian Robison) will be with the Vikings next year?
“That is not my decision and not my thing to worry about,” he said. “All I do is go out and play football, bud.”
Several Vikings players make great contributions to charity, and Allen is one of the leaders in that area.
“My foundation is doing well,” he said. “We’ve partnered with some good people like the PBR [Professional Bull Riders] and we have some good things coming up in 2014. Just trying to do my due diligence to give back. The military has always been a special part of my life and my family. So that’s why we build and remodel homes and make them handicap-accessible for our wounded vets.”
McHale moves pay off
The signing of center Nikola Pekovic to a five-year, $60 million Timberwolves contract is a reminder that Kevin McHale’s legacy as the team’s general manager is still playing out.
In January 2006, McHale sent Wally Szczerbiak, Michael Olowokandi, Dwayne Jones and a future first-round draft pick to Boston for Ricky Davis, Marcus Banks, Justin Reed and Mark Blount along with Boston’s 2006 second-round draft pick and the Miami Heat’s 2008 second-round pick, which Boston had acquired in an earlier trade.
In 2008 McHale used that second-round pick from Boston, via Miami, to select Pekovic 31st overall. The Star Tribune reported on that draft night that McHale and the Wolves received offers of cash or protected future first-round picks as teams tried to get the obtain that selection. Everyone knew Pekovic was a lottery-type talent but he had contract issues in Europe that were going to be tough to resolve. He lasted until the second round to avoid the rookie contract scale.
But McHale knew he had something special in Pekovic, and anyway, he had already made a franchise-altering trade earlier in the draft.