Jared Allen (Andy Blenkush/AP)
Jared Allen knows the advantage a loud Metrodome gives the defense and he’s hoping fans don’t boo. He understands why they boo, but he wants the crowd in his favor for the stretch run.
Jared Allen isn’t one to mince words. However, as he spoke to the assembled media Friday at Winter Park, he sounded like a man resigned to his fate.
Allen was asked to assess the Vikings current locker room demeanor and, as is his habit, he didn’t mince words.
“We’re fine,” Allen said. “When you’re at rock bottom, you can only go up from there. We’ve got nothing to lose now. Not too many people expect us to win. (We) just have to go out and have fun. It’s the same old story. We have the capability and talent to right the ship. We just have to do it.”
Allen said that, as the Vikings fight for their playoff lives just one game past the midway point of the 2010 season, he hopes Vikings fans don’t take away their home-field advantage – actually making a plea to them not to turn their backs on them. He said he understood why fans booed when the Vikings fumbled the opening kickoff of the second half and fell behind Arizona by 11 points. He didn’t blame them for booing, but said the team needs the advantage provided by an ear-piercing home crowd to make things more difficult for the Packers offense.
“It’s huge,” Allen said. “Playing at home is always an advantage. You’ve got the energy of the crowd – please don’t boo us. I know we haven’t won, but we’ve given you some good years the last couple years, too. At home, when the crowd is going, you’ve got that energy. It evens the playing field a little bit. If the O-lineman is on a silent count and has to watch to see when the ball is snapped, at least now we both have to watch the ball to see when it’s snapped versus knowing the count.’
Whether the Vikings are capable of pulling off what would be a historic feat – winning six of seven or all seven games remaining to make the playoffs – will play itself out over the next seven games. A loss to the Packers would likely end that quest in its tracks. Allen said that, regardless of how many wins the Vikings end up with in 2010, it will be a challenge to see who is giving 100 percent and who isn’t – a true test of fighting through adversity.
“At this point, people’s character gets tested,” Allen said. “You find out when you’re in a bad situation who really likes football – who loves football and loves to play and who’s going to put it on the line every single week – win, lose or draw. We have seven games left and they all mean something to us. We’re not out of it yet. We have to go out there and we’ve got to play good Vikings football, pin our ears back and go hit people in the mouth and forget about all the crap that’s been going on and just win a football game.”
The Packers are a three-point favorite against the Vikings. The last time the Vikings were a home underdog was Week 2 of the 2008 season when they were a 1½-point dog to Indianapolis.
The final injury reports were released Friday. Safety Eric Frampton (hamstring) has been ruled out of Sunday’s game. Four Vikings are listed as questionable – Sidney Rice (hip), Bernard Berrian (groin), John Sullivan (calf) and Anthony Herrera (elbow). Five others are listed as probable – Brett Favre (ankle/foot), Percy Harvin (ankle), Chris Cook (knee), Asher Allen (concussion) and Jamarca Sanford (hamstring).
The Packers have three players listed as questionable – DE Ryan Pickett (ankle), WR Donald Driver (quadriceps) and FB Korey Hall (back). Seven others are listed as probable – LB Clay Matthews, CB Charles Woodson, OT Chad Clifton, C Scott Wells, LB Brandon Chillar, TE Andrew Quarless and CB Pat Lee.
Brad Childress may have given Sidney Rice an ultimatum about playing or not this season. The Vikings still have a spot on the 53-man roster open – it has been since Randy Moss was released earlier this month. Childress said Friday that if Rice isn’t activated from the physically unable to perform list for Sunday’s game, he will likely be placed on injured reserve, officially ending his 2010 season.
Running backs coach Eric Bieniemy is a candidate for the University of Colorado head coaching position. Bieniemy is a well-respected coach, a master recruiter and a Buffalo during his college playing days. Childress acknowledged that he has been contract by the head-coaching search committee at Colorado and Bieniemy, who has coached with the Vikings since Childress assembled his staff in 2006, would be a formidable candidate, especially given his recruiting acumen.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.