Notebook: Jared Allen has done more damage against Packers than anyone
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- No team has given up more sacks to Jared Allen than the Green Bay Packers.
The Minnesota Vikings' right end has 12 sacks in eight career matchups -- 2½ more than he has in eight games against Detroit and seven games against Chicago. That includes two in the teams' last meeting on Oct. 23, when Allen beat Packers left tackle Marshall Newhouse to drop Aaron Rodgers in 2.5 and 2.7 seconds.
With 12½ sacks through eight games this season entering Monday's rematch at Lambeau Field, Allen remains on pace to shatter Michael Strahan's decade-old NFL record of 22½ sacks. Would it be any sweeter to add to that total against the league's hottest quarterback and lone remaining unbeaten?
"Absolutely," Allen said on Thursday. "(But) I would much rather give them their first loss and come back here with a big old smile on our face and being at 3-6 than worry about all that stuff."
Only five quarterbacks -- Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger (26), St. Louis' Sam Bradford (25), Arizona's Kevin Kolb (24), Chicago's Jay Cutler (21) and Seattle's Tarvaris Jackson (21) --- have been sacked more this season than Rodgers (20).
The loss of veteran left tackle Chad Clifton to a hamstring injury on Oct. 9 surely hasn't helped. Newhouse has allowed four sacks in parts of six games, according to Pro FootballFocus.com, plus two more hits and 13 additional pressures.
Of course, none of that has stopped Rodgers from setting record pace of his own in passer rating (129.1) and completion percentage (72.5%).
"You've got to find a way to put him on his back," coach Leslie Frazier said. "You've got to find a way to tackle him, to disrupt the timing, because if he has time, you see it -- it's like watching seven-on-seven out there."
The Vikings blitzed Rodgers sparingly in the first meeting (six times in 31 dropback pass plays, 19.4%) and have continued to play predominantly zone coverage with seven men in coverage. Unless something changed after last week's self-scout -- unlikely, given Rodgers' efficiency against manufactured pressure -- the onus will be on a four-man rush that's been more like a one-man show of late.
Left end Brian Robison tailed off before the bye and hasn't had a sack since Oct. 9. The only other sack by a defensive lineman other than Allen over the past three games was Everson Griffen's hustle play in 5.0 seconds after Rodgers broke the pocket in the first meeting.
It's worth noting than nine of Allen's sacks against the Packers have come in five games on the fast surface at the Metrodome. The other three all came on Nov. 1, 2009, when then-rookie T.J. Lang in place of an injured Clifton at left tackle, and Clifton shut down Allen with little help last Oct. 24, when Allen was in a deep early-season funk.
"You really can't play their game," Allen said. "You can't worry about like, '(Rodgers) might do this. We've got to try to stop it.' We've got to play our defense, and it starts with stopping the run, forcing them into second-and-long, third-and-long and then get after the quarterback.
"They have great receivers. They have a great quarterback. But again, it's a team game and we've got some good players over here, too."
After a four-game absence, cornerback Antoine Winfield fully participated in practice on Thursday and declared his neck "100 percent" healthy.
"No problems," Winfield said. "Doing my little back of my neck machine, doing my regular weight. Seen the chiropractor, he cracked me up. We're good to go."
That's a much-needed boost for a Vikings secondary that has been short-handed since Winfield strained his neck while making a tackle on Oct. 2 at Kansas City.
Cook was reinstated to the active roster on Monday but remains away from the team indefinitely. That means Winfield likely will start opposite Cedric Griffin on Monday, with Allen bumping Winfield inside in the nickel.
Contact with Cook
Cook's next court hearing is Nov. 22 and it's unlikely his felony strangulation case will be resolved before the season ends.
Frazier said he anticipates speaking with Cook "from time to time, see how he's doing and so on, and I'm sure I'll get information on what's going on with him from time to time."
Asked what his message will be, Frazier said, "It'll probably be more listening than talking, just to be updated on what's going on."
Besides Cook, right guard Anthony Herrera was the only player who didn't practice with the Vikings on Thursday.
Herrera suffered damage to the lateral collateral ligament in his left knee in the first Packers game and most likely will be replaced in the lineup by Joe Berger again on Monday.
"We're going to see what he's capable of doing," Frazier said. "Our trainers are telling me he's making progress. We'll see if he can get out this week and try at all. If he can, it'd be good for us. But we'll have to kind of take it day to day and just see where he is."
The Packers ruled out Clifton and outside linebacker Frank Zombo (hamstring) for Monday's game. Linebacker Clay Matthews (knee), end Mike Neal (knee) and guard Josh Sitton (knee) were limited and safety Morgan Burnett (hand) was a full participant.
• Frazier said his message to the team on Thursday was about taking one game at a time -- and he doesn't anticipate any trouble getting players up for Monday's nationally televised game. "You got that right," Frazier said. "You're motivated. It's Monday Night Football. They're undefeated and we get a chance to go up there and hope to play our best game of the season."
• Rookie QB Christian Ponder said he doesn't watch any other quarterbacks on tape -- not even Rodgers, who he nonetheless praised based on what he's seen from highlights. "He's probably this year's league MVP," Ponder said. "But we're all different."