Jared Allen seems perfectly fine observing practices, and not participating, during the Minnesota Vikings second week of organized team activities. Good thing, too, because offseason shoulder surgery will prevent him from practicing until training camp.
“We probably won’t see him until we get to training camp,” Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said after Wednesday’s practice. “But from everything that (athletic trainer) Eric Sugarman and our staff told me, medically he’s doing great. There won’t be any problem when we get to training camp so we’re looking forward to having him when the time comes.”
Allen, who had 22 sacks in 2011, coming up a half-sack shy of tying Michael Strahan’s single-season NFL record, revealed that the torn labrum that led to the first surgery of his life occurred during Allen’s career year.
“By the time I found out where it was actually at – (Sugarman) will attest I hate MRIs so I don’t ever go – it’s kind of just one of those things, just strengthen it up. My hat’s off to our training staff; they kept me healthy all year, as healthy as I could be,” Allen said. “They kept me on the field.”
Allen hasn’t missed a game since his final season with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2007, and that was for a suspension, not injury. Last year, because he found out the extent of his injury too late to have surgery and still play, he opted to play the entire season with the bum shoulder. He still managed a team-high 12 sacks.
The pain was finally enough for Allen to have the surgery after attending the Pro Bowl in February. He also had knee surgery, but that wasn’t nearly the ordeal as the shoulder pain.
“I tell people all the time: the best thing is just sleeping again. It still took about two months into the surgery and finally I asked the doc, ‘When am I going go to sleep? I still can’t sleep.’ I’d wake up every night tossing and turning,” Allen said. “It’s one those things that it would just end, and one morning I woke up and I looked at the clock and there was sun outside and I was like, ‘Ahhh, it’s morning! Yes!’ Then my wife told me to shut up and not wake her up. She was like, ‘It’s six in the morning. Be quiet.’ So it’s nice to feel like I have complete use of my body again.”
Allen returned to Minnesota this week to resume his rehab and has been watching his teammates go through voluntary workouts. The Vikings will have their mandatory minicamp June 18-20 as the last gathering before training camp, but Allen isn’t expected to practice until the Vikings report to Mankato in late July.
He said he has about 97 percent flexibility back in the shoulder and is just trying to regain strength after not being able to do the straight bench press last year.
“All I could do is incline bench, do some core work. I couldn’t even squat because you can’t hold the weight on your back so you’re trying to improvise with leg presses and stuff like that,” he said. “So I feel great. Just, again, a step forward.”
He said he spent about two months in Hawaii and is getting back into shape. Now he is able to do all of his normal lifts and workouts and “ready to rock and roll.”
The practice song and dance, however, will wait for almost two more months.
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.