Jared Allen (Bruce Kluckhohn/US Presswire)
While the Vikings are talking about reducing the snaps for some of their defenders in their 30s, Jared Allen wants no part of coming off the field more often, despite playing in more than 94 percent of last year’s defensive downs.
Jared Allen is in no rush to have his snaps reduced.
Even after a warm training camp practice and third straight day in full pads in the heat and humidity of Mankato, Allen eschewed the thinking that a reduced role might be in order for the man who was on the field for more than 94 percent of the defensive snaps last year. Only Chad Greenway, at 99.34 percent, was on the field more often.
“I don’t like coming off the field. My thing is I work so hard in the offseason to get in the best shape I can. My theory has always been if you want to rest me, rest me during the week because I get paid to play on Sundays. That’s when I’m out there to make plays,” said Allen, who led the NFL with 22 sacks last year.
Defensive coordinator Alan Williams has talked about having a rotation on the defensive line, one he likens to hockey clubs rotating lines. It certainly won’t be happening to that degree, but Allen made it pretty clear after Wednesday’s practice that he won’t be asking to come off the field very often.
“I understand that you’ve got to have rotations and I’m going to do what’s asked of me. There will be a diplomatic conversation if they ask me to roll back too much,” he said. “I feel good. I work my butt off to make sure I can play 60-70 snaps a game. … I know it’s part of it. I’m not looking forward to it if it happens, but that’s just because I’m a competitor and I think I can make every play when I’m out there.”
While his 94 percent seems high, especially for a player that turned 30 in April, he also played in just over 93 percent of the snaps in 2010.
He said his defensive line coach up until this season, Karl Dunbar, and his defensive line coach this year, Brendan Daly, have done a good job of making sure Allen doesn’t wear down during practices.
“I like to work efficiently. I don’t like to just work dumbly. As long as we get our work in, coach knows where we’re at. They know physically we’re fine,” Allen said. “I don’t really ever pay attention to the amount of snaps. We’re trying to win football games. In my opinion, you put your best players on the football field to win football games.”
Although Williams talked of a rotation to the media, Allen said he hasn’t been approached about cutting down on his in-season snap count.
“They’re probably waiting,” he said with a laugh.
Jamarca Sanford is likely the favorite for the strong safety position, but he was also a regular contributor on special teams, playing in almost 23 percent of the special-teams snaps last year. Leslie Frazier said Sanford brings high energy to defense and special teams.
“He is one of those guys that goes 100 miles per hour so there is never time where he takes any time off. And if you are an opposing special-teams player and you are trying to get your breath, look out because Jamarca will rock you now,” Frazier said. “The energy he brings, he carries that over to the way he plays, and he plays lights out.”
Although the Vikings have been working Everson Griffen strictly at linebacker in training camp, Frazier said he still is likely to play on the defensive line on third downs. Last year, Griffen offered the team a pass-rushing option from defensive tackle and end, as well as occasionally sliding back to linebacker.
WR Stephen Burton didn’t appear to be limited at all in the afternoon full-pads practice in his comeback from a toe injury that he described as similar to turf toe.
Rookie CB Josh Robinson is ramping up his comeback from a pulled hamstring on Friday. He didn’t appear to get any work during full-team drills, but he took part in some of the individual drills.
The Vikings continue to give Brandon Fusco more reps with the first team at right guard, but Geoff Schwartz appears to be increasing his rotation into the lineup with the first team during the full afternoon practices.
Brian Robison, Chris Carr, Larry Dean, Mistral Raymond, Christian Ballard and Nick Reed all had touch sacks during full-team work.
CB Brandon Burton had a leaping interception on a pass from Sage Rosenfels intended for Kamar Jorden.
Several plays later, CB Reggie Jones, who is flashing signs of improved play, pick off another Rosenfels pass intended for Kerry Taylor and returned it for a touchdown.
Chris Cook had an interception of a Christian Ponder pass intended for WR Jerome Simpson during seven-on-seven work. The next play, Cook knocked down a pass intended for WR Michael Jenkins.
Two plays later, Ponder lofted a perfect 85-yard touchdown pass to Simpson that traveled about 50 yards in the air. Simpson was able to pull it in by his fingertips after exploiting a seam between Brandon Burton and Andrew Sendejo.
LB Solomon Elimimian jarred the ball loose from WR Emmanuel Arceneaux after a reception and CB Bobby Felder plucked the ball out of the air for a fumble recovery.
Allen can’t stay serious for too long. Asked about his persona among fans, including getting rid of his mullet and having t-shirts that say “Sax Machine,” he was quick with the jokes. “First of all, Sax Machine is hilarious. I think it’s funny. It’s a play on Kenny G. Everybody knows that.”
Regarding his clean haircut these days: “Mullets are awesome. Let’s be honest. If I could grow it again without my hair falling out – I’m balding rapidly fast. So when I bald I’m going to have a skullet. That’ll be pretty funny. It’s like the cul-de-sac look. That’ll be cool.”
Tim Yotter is the publisher of 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.