Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Allen `throwing darts' to prepare Browns mystery RB

Posted by: Mark Craig under AFC Updated: September 19, 2013 - 1:13 PM

So your opponent starts its Wednesday by promoting the No. 3 quarterback to starter and ends its Wednesday by trading its running back and best offensive player.

Whaddaya do on Thursday?

Defensive end Jared Allen, who is preparing for Browns QB Brian Hoyer and Browns RB to-be-determined, was asked that question earlier today.

"I’ve been trying to watch preseason tape of the quarterback and now I’m trying to throw darts at a board and see who the running back is going to be," Allen said. "If it’s going to be [Willis] McGahee [as speculation suggests], at least we can go back and watch some film on him. It is tough. It makes it tough to prepare. I think one thing coach has been adamant about, it doesn’t change the scheme. It doesn’t change the plays they’re going to run. It doesn’t change how they’re going to block them up front and it doesn’t change the fact that they’re an effective running football team."

This alleged power running game ranks 29th in the NFL. It averages 56.0 yards per game.

"They run a lot of downhill power game and they want to hit you in the mouth and that’s a fun type of football game," Allen said. "People hear Trent's gone and you hear all the talk about them kicking it in for the season. That’s not the case.

"This is a humbling league and if you don’t take every opponent serious, if you don’t think someone can come in – I was reminding the guys that we didn’t know who the Arizona running back was last year, I think he ran for like a buck, 50 – so this is how this league stays successful because guys get an opportunity to shine and we just got to make sure no one shines on us.”

Allen was referring to then-Cardinals back LaRod Stephens-Howling, who ran for 104 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries (5.2) and caught four passes for 45 yards and a touchdown in a 21-14 loss at the Metrodome a year ago.

No other running back has carried the ball for the Browns in their first two games. Richardson had carried it 31 times for 105 yards (3.4). Bobby Rainey is the backup, while Chris Ogbonnaya is the first-team fullback.

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