Vikings defensive end Jared Allen left practice more than halfway through Tuesday afternoon with a left ankle injury that will be evaluated further, according to Vikings coach Leslie Frazier.
Allen was one of several starters that was either injured in practice or limited because of injuries, joining safety Harrison Smith (knee) and linebacker Erin Henderson (groin soreness).
Frazier said Allen wouldn’t have played in Friday’s preseason opener against the Houston Texans anyway, but the head coach is holding out until after Wednesday’s practice before he decides who else will be held out.
Allen was taken to the trainer’s tent after the injury, which occurred in full-team drills, and limped his way to the locker room with a wrap around the ankle after practice.
Last year, Allen played in 93 percent of the team’s defensive snaps, and he carries the largest base salary ($14.28 million) and salary cap number ($16.86 million) on the team.
”We’ll look them over and determine whether or not we need to do an MRI,” Frazier said of Smith and Allen’s injuries.
Smith left practice after twisting his knee and Henderson has been mostly practicing through a groin injury for the last several days.
”It doesn’t seem (that bad) just watching him move around, but you never know,” Frazier said of Smith’s injury. “They just said they’re going to check it out to make sure.”
Frazier anticipates Henderson practicing on Wednesday.
The Vikings were also missing first-round cornerback Xavier Rhodes (hamstring), weakside linebacker Desmond Bishop (groin), cornerback A.J. Jefferson (ankle) and defensive tackle Christian Ballard (groin).
“We’ll see how those guys progress in the next 24 hours and see if we’ll give them a shot in the ballgame Friday night,” Frazier said.
Frazier said he believes Rhodes, who hasn’t practiced since Friday, has a chance to practice on Wednesday and might see action in the preseason opener.
The re-signing of linebacker Stanford Keglar should help alleviate some of the increased reps the healthy linebacker have been taking because of injuries to Henderson, Bishop and undrafted rookie Nate Williams.
“I think having signed Stanford will help us from a depth standpoint. We were lacking without Nate being able to practice, but I think having another body to practice, that helps our depth a little bit from a practice standpoint,” Frazier said.
William started training camp on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list because of an ankle injury and never came off that list before the Vikings released him Tuesday. He may be owed an injury settlement if he clears waivers.
“It will be a process. That will be something we’ll have to talk with his agent about and determine how this is going to go, but we’ll come to a conclusion on that,” Frazier said.
Audie Cole filled in for Henderson and Brandon Burton for Rhodes during Tuesday’s practice.
The Vikings used a lot of different combinations with their first-team defense, but first-round pick Sharrif Floyd got some time with the first-team defensive line.
Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave’s goal for the preseason opener? “We want to be fundamentally sound. We don’t want our fundamentals to go out the window when we get into a real game situation or a clutch situation or a make-or-break play. We want to do what we do out here on the practice field, which is to be sound and execute and make some plays, so we want to see all of that from those guys.”
How about defensive coordinator Alan Williams’ goal? “Really just can the guys execute their assignments under the lights; that’s the big thing. When the crowd gets out there, the emotions start flowing and the juices start to flow, can they execute and do what they’ve been doing in individual, what the coaches ask them to do in the meeting room. Also, in the group work, can they carry over from the practice field to game like situations and then really, you want to see if guys can run, can they tackle, and can they think on their feet when it’s all running together.”
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.