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Continued: Vikings' D-linemen Allen, Williams still enjoying the ride

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Last update: December 15, 2013 - 1:04 AM

Allen was drawn to the competitiveness within the defensive line group, particularly the Williams Wall. Those two constantly strived to outdo the other in everything. They even turned their postgame grades by coaches into a friendly but intense competition.

“Shoot, Jared jumped right in without missing a beat,” Kevin said. “And he gave us that edge pass rush that we didn’t have.”

Allen said it took about half of that first season to mesh with Kevin’s style of play. In his prime, Williams was a supremely athletic tackle who could rush the quarterback. Allen said he tried not to “impede” Williams’ approach until Dunbar, their line coach at the time, told him, “Man, just play.”

“I started feeling, ‘OK, I know how we’re going to work,’ ” Allen said.

Now, they react without hesitation. They just know what the other will do in every situation.

“I can give him a look in a game or I just know off a blocking scheme how he’s going to handle his guy,” Allen said. “I know on my second step, if I look over and I see where he’s at, I know where he’s going off that. That’s just years of playing together.”

Playing with pain

Allen got “dinged up” this season and the team tried to persuade him to take a practice off to rest. But he saw Williams dressed for practice.

“If ‘Ticket’ is out there,” Allen said, calling him by his nickname, “I’ve got to go out there.”

Apparently, rest is not an option, even for veterans with their credentials.

“We give each other a hard time,” Williams said. “If I miss a day, they’re going to let me know it.”

They take pride in their durability and willingness to play through an assortment of injuries over the years. Williams has missed only three games in 11 seasons because of injury. Allen has played in every game since joining the Vikings.

“We’re self-motivated,” Williams said. “A lot of guys need speeches and all that stuff. You’ve got to have something in you. The money is great. Everybody wants to get paid a lot. But most of all, we’re motivated to succeed. We want to get the tackles, the sacks, the splash plays. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, that’s the tough part. The games are where you have all your fun. It’s dreadful making it through the week, but that’s why you play through stuff that hurts.”

Allen sounds like a kid on Christmas in reliving how Hall of Fame defensive end Jack Youngblood played with a broken leg in the 1979 postseason.

“That’s the coolest,” he gushed. “I do believe that I get paid a great salary to go out and give it everything I’ve got. It’s the same reason I don’t want to come off the field. I know that I’m at my best on my third wind, sweatier than heck and we need to get a play. That’s when you dig deep and say, ‘I’m better than this fat dude across from me.’ ”

Yes, they can be stubborn, too. Admittedly, they occasionally disagree with coaches’ decisions on strategy, and they prefer to do things a certain way because, well, their way has worked in the past. Those two often reminisce — and remind others — about the success they had as a unit not so long ago.

“Sometimes it’s talking to deaf ears,” Williams said. “But we remember all the time, especially me and him.”

Added Allen: “I think that’s why we relate so well is because the techniques that we use are similar and we know they work. They might be outdated, they might be old, but why build an engine a different way when you know it works?”

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