Notebook: Concussion concerns could impact Husain Abdullah's future
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - Husain Abdullah is going to have some big decisions to make this offseason.
The veteran safety will become an unrestricted free agent in March, meaning it isn't a given he will return to the Minnesota Vikings. Abdullah also said he isn't certain he will return to the NFL at all.
Abdullah finished the season on injured reserve after suffering a concussion on Nov. 14 at Green Bay. He suffered two concussions during the 2011 season and has had four over the past two seasons.
"I definitely want to play," he said. "I've been playing (football) since I was 8-years old. To have it taken away from me when I can still play that would really hurt. ... But if the doctor comes and tells me something I don't want to hear, then definitely I've got to start putting the family first."
Abdullah started the first nine games of the season for the Vikings before the injury. As players departed the Winter Park locker room Monday for the last time following a 3-13 season, Abdullah said he felt "pretty good," but admitted, "I haven't done much since Green Bay."
He has been working out once or twice a week at the Vikings facility but his activity has been limited.
"As of right now, since I feel good, it's not overly concerning," he said, "but at the same time you look at all the former players and what they're going through now and you're starting to see a lot more stuff pop up about concussions.
"Even in other sports. I've been watching hockey as well, seeing their stuff. I'll just try to find out more information about it and see how it is for me. I know a lot of people have (concussions) and some people it affects greatly, some people it doesn't. I'll just try to figure out how it's affecting me and then move forward."
The Vikings made a contract offer to Abdullah earlier in the season, but those talks were put on hold after he went on injured reserve. Abdullah, who won a starting job coming out of training camp in 2010, said he definitely would like to remain a Viking if all goes well.
"Of course," he said. "They gave me a shot when nobody else did, so I'm definitely a Vikings fan and I'd like to be a Viking as long as they'll have me."
Abdullah was signed by the Vikings as an undrafted free agent out of Washington State in 2008.
Allen supports Pagac
Defensive end Jared Allen, who finished a half-sack behind Michael Strahan's single-season record of 22.5 and will be the Vikings' lone representative in the Pro Bowl, made it very clear that he wants defensive coordinator Fred Pagac back.
The Vikings defense finished 21st in the NFL in Pagac's first season as the coordinator and the buzz around Winter Park is that he won't return.
"I love Coach Pagac to death and I'm going to fight for him," Allen said. "I want him to be my d-coordinator next year."
Allen knows there is a big difference between what he might want and what actually might happen.
"I can just state my opinions to Coach (Leslie) Frazier, like I do every year," Allen said. "I used to have the same conversation with Brad (Childress) and I'd just say, 'Listen, I love playing for my guys,' and leave it at that. What decisions are going to be made are going to be made. I just know that I appreciate our coaching staff and I appreciate everything they put into this season."
Allen went out of his way to praise everyone from owner Zygi Wilf to the coaching staff.
"They want to win, they've got your back," he said. "And to have coaches that you trust is rare. I've played for guys where maybe you don't know them, maybe you don't really have that rapport with them.
"This is a very family organization and I love that. Just knowing these guys on an individual basis makes me know that. ... They're going to do everything in their power just to create a team that's competitive next year to get back on top of the (NFC) North."
Williams' knee to be checked
Defensive tackle Kevin Williams will have his knee examined in the coming days after playing through pain this season. It is the same knee that Williams had arthroscopic surgery on last offseason.
"We'll get it checked out here and try to see if anything is still wrong with the knee and just go from there," he said. "(The pain) was pretty much under control about midseason, but earlier in the season it was still up and down a little bit."
Williams admitted one issue was that after he underwent surgery last winter he could not rehab at the Vikings facility once the NFL lockout began. "That was a tough thing to do," he said. "You're not getting the hands on treatment from the guys who know you personally."
Williams also was bothered early in the year by plantar fasciitis in his left foot. He did not miss any games because of that injury, in part because he was suspended for the first two games of the season as discipline in the long-running StarCaps case.
Williams, who will turn 32 in August, refuses to put a timetable on how much longer he might play. "I don't know," he said. "I'm just going to play as hard as I can for the next couple of years and whatever happens, happens."
Williams is due to make a base salary of $7 million in 2012 and then has a two-year, $16.76 million option for 2013 and 2014. Williams said he has not been approached about redoing his deal and perhaps adding more years to it.
"We're going to see how things go this offseason and hopefully we can get something done and I can finish here," he said. "But if we can't, we'll just evaluate and go from there."
Another dip against the run
The Vikings run defense finished 11th in the NFL this season, giving up an average of 107 yards per game. Last season, the Vikings were ninth in the league against the run.
That came after the run defense finished first from 2006 to 2008 and second in 2009.
The Vikings were at their best against the run with Williams and nose tackle Pat Williams playing in the middle. Pat Willams, though, showed signs of age last season and was not brought back.
The Vikings signed former Saints nose tackle Remi Ayodele to a three-year free-agent deal after the lockout but he often had his snaps limited this season.
"You miss (Pat), of course, but you've got to be able to roll with the guys that you've got and build some chemistry with those guys," Kevin Williams said. "We got it going a little bit, but it wasn't as smooth as playing alongside Pat for so long."
On the move?
The Vikings also signed Charlie Johnson as a free agent in the days after the lockout and the quick assumption was that the former Indianapolis Colt would provide depth at guard or tackle.
However, a few days later, the Vikings released an overweight Bryant McKinnie and Johnson was plugged in as the starting left tackle.
"It was a weird set of circumstances," Johnson said when asked to reflect. "Not only for me, but all the free agents who went to another team this year. Really not getting to know teammates, not getting to know playbooks, stuff like that. It was a challenge early. Kind of have a couple of days to get integrated and then it's like, 'Let's go play.'"
Depending on what happens this offseason, there would appear a chance Johnson could return to the Vikings as a guard next season. There are some who feel he is best suited to play that position.
"I don't know. I don't get caught up in that," Johnson said. "Obviously the team is going to do what they feel is best for the team. My opinion, I'm not going to sit here and say that another guy is needed or anything. I feel like the group that we have now can get the job done.
"Obviously, if they choose to go in that direction, then whatever adjustments need to be made will be made. But I'm not going to concede anything regardless of what happens. I never have in my time in Indy and I won't now."
Asked if he enjoyed left tackle the most, Johnson said: "I enjoy playing football, that's really what it is. Just as long as I'm in the lineup and playing on Sunday and helping this team win it doesn't matter. For the past four years of my career left tackle is where it has been, so that's what I do."
Push for OTAs
Wide receiver Percy Harvin sounds like he plans to spend plenty of time around Winter Park this spring and summer and is encouraging his teammates to do the same.
Harvin told the media that all the wide receivers would be attending the Organized Team Activity workouts this offseason.
"It's a must," Harvin said of the importance of the OTAs, which are optional. "All the receivers will be there. I can't speak for the rest of the team. But that was one of coach's strong points in our closing and exit meeting.
"With as long of break that the (new) CBA gave us, I think it's a whole (more) month, there should be no excuse of why (players) shouldn't be there. Now, there are emergencies and things like that, but I do fully anticipate most of our team being there."
Harvin, who led the Vikings with 87 receptions for 967 yards and was third on the team with 345 rushing yards, said he felt the lockout really hurt the progress of the offense run by new coordinator Bill Musgrave.
"In talking to Coach Musgrave, I think he tried to put a lot of it in, but tried to put in the basic (stuff)," Harvin said. "His offense can get tricky with his motions and his personnel. I don't actually know if he was able to get to that. ... We were really basic in that aspect, so hopefully with the OTAs we can get a little creative next year."
Linebacker Chad Greenway was rewarded just before the regular season with a five-year, $41 million contract that included $20 million guaranteed.
Greenway said Monday that he realized that although he tried not to press, he ended up doing just that.
"I think getting the contract early in the season you almost try to put more pressure on yourself, then you realize you can't do that," he said. "You've just got to be yourself. I think I realized that three or four weeks in. Just go out there and play and have fun and things will take care of themselves."
Greenway acknowledged he was very disappointed to finish the season with no interceptions. He has no picks the past two years after having three in 2009.
"I didn't make enough big plays to get us enough wins, to help," Greenway said. "Every year can't be your best, so that's frustrating as a player. I try to work as hard as I can every chance I get and I want to be the best. It's frustrating, but at the same point I know I'm doing the right things to move forward and get better next year. I want to be part of the solution."
Happy at corner
Veteran Antoine Winfield continues to rehab after breaking his collarbone on Nov. 14 at Green Bay and ending the season on injured reserve.
Winfield fully expects to be back next season and said he plans to play the final two years of his contract and then retire. "That will get me to year 15," he said. "I expect to hang them up after that."
There has been plenty of speculation the last few years that Winfield might make the move to safety before his career is done, but as long as the Vikings are playing a base Cover-2 defense that isn't going to happen.
At least not if Winfield has anything to say about it.
"Safety's not my position," Winfield said. "I like to be in the action, so I'll be at corner."
Winfield, 34, could end up playing exclusively inside in the nickel next season. He has been the Vikings starting left corner when healthy and then frequently moved inside on passing downs.
"I've always played in the nickel since I was at Ohio State," he said. "That's always been my favorite position and I loved being in there where all the action is. I can blitz and do some other things. I see myself there."
• Linebacker E.J. Henderson, a second-round pick of the Vikings in 2003, will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. So far there have been no talks between Henderson's reps and the team. "I'll go talk to Les (Frazier) and see where his mindset is at," Henderson said. "I'll probably have a better idea once I talk to him. Like I said before, I'm not the GM. They've got a lot going on upstairs, so we'll see how it works out."
• Cornerback Cedric Griffin cleaned out his locker thoroughly into a garbage bag and refused multiple interview requests from reporters. Griffin gathered all of his personal effects, a clear sign that he does not expect to return to the Vikings. That comes as no surprise considering the fact he was benched for almost two games late in the season and clearly was not happy with his situation.
• Safety Tyrell Johnson, who finished the season on injured reserve after tearing his hamstring tendon off the bone on Nov. 27 in Atlanta, said he will begin rehab work on the injury on Tuesday. The Vikings' second-round pick in 2008, Johnson will be a free agent but would like to return.
• Harvin posted on Twitter that he is an alternate selection for the Pro Bowl.
Tom Pelissero contributed.