Notebook: Jared Allen not assuming sacks will come easily vs. Arizona
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Jared Allen leads the Minnesota Vikings with four sacks this season, but that isn't close to the 9.5 he had through six games last year en route to finishing with an NFL-leading 22.
The Pro Bowl defensive end could make up for lost time on Sunday as he goes against an Arizona Cardinals offensive line that has given up an NFL-worst 28 sacks this season, including 22 in the past three games.
Allen laughed when asked if he was excited about facing a team that has given up so many sacks, and told a story about what happened when he was playing for Kansas City.
"(The Houston Texans) had given up like 50 sacks and we came in there like Week 10 or Week 11," he said. "All we saw were bootlegs. You can't sit there and say, 'We're going to lick our chops and get after the quarterback,' because you're going to get burned in the run. Our game plan never changes. It's always, 'We have to be successful on first and second down.'
"If you go through, watching the game film, the reason teams have been successful is they've forced the Cardinals to be in situations where they have had to go down the field. They've forced their offense to spread out and created some matchup problems. That's what the game comes down to. We have to be very good on first and second down, we have to smash the run and then when we get a chance to get after the quarterback, we have to get after the quarterback."
Vikings defensive coordinator Alan Williams, however, expressed confidence that Allen and the defensive line will be successful. Allen will be expected to consistently win his matchup against Cardinals left tackle D'Anthony Batiste.
"I'll take Jared on anyone," Williams said. "You put him against anyone out there and I expect Jared to win. I tell Jared, 'When they single you up on anyone, (you) have to win.' If he can't, our defense doesn't work and that's with any of our guys up front. If we can't rush four on five and win, we're going to have troubles."
Allen, Peterson sit
Running back Adrian Peterson (ankle) and Allen (groin) did not practice Thursday, but coach Leslie Frazier expects both to be on the field for Friday's practice and said they will be "ready to go" for Sunday's game at the Metrodome.
"We wanted to be careful with Adrian's ankle and Jared's groin was bothering him a little bit," Frazier said. "We just wanted to hold him back as well."
Allen was limited on Wednesday, while Peterson has missed both practices so far this week.
Wide receiver Jerome Simpson, who did not play last Sunday because of a back issue that is causing numbness in one of his legs, went through an entire practice for the second consecutive day on Thursday.
"He's had two good days," Frazier said. "He looks good, he's moving good. In and out of his breaks, catching all the balls, so it's encouraging. Very encouraging."
Road to recovery
Safety Mistral Raymond practiced for the second day in a row after being out since suffering a partially dislocated right ankle in Week 3. Frazier said Raymond is making good progress, although he continues to be limited and won't play Sunday.
The Vikings hope is that Raymond might be ready to return for the Nov. 4 game at Seattle. After facing the Cardinals, the Vikings will play host to Tampa Bay before getting a lengthy break.
Jamarca Sanford has been starting at strong safety with Raymond out, but it sounds as if Raymond might get a chance to reclaim the job.
"When he gets to 100 percent, when we know he's completely cleared, we want to work him back into the starting lineup eventually," Frazier said. "So we'll see where he is when he comes back."
Lack of execution
Williams said the Vikings issues with Washington's zone reads in last Sunday's loss came down to "all execution."
"The zone read is going to be tough on any defense because it's an extra gap," he said. "The quarterback adds an extra dimension in terms of running in the amount of gaps that you had. It's an extra gap with a great athlete in that extra gap, so guys will have to two-gap. It slows you down just a little bit. ... They have an outstanding athlete running that offense, so we just have to execute better, tackle better, play faster. But I'm not concerned about it."
That's in part because the Vikings aren't going to face a quarterback like the Redskins' Robert Griffin III again during the regular season. Griffin rushed for 138 yards on 13 carries with two touchdowns, including a 76-yarder.
Williams said that Griffin escaping for that long of touchdown run came down to several factors.
"It's really the linebackers, our safety running the alley, Chris (Cook) keeping outside leverage," he said. "It's an example of maybe if you're in zone coverage or you're playing a different leverage, guys will get the guy on the ground.
"I wasn't concerned about him getting out necessarily as much as him taking it the distance that he did. Quarterbacks are going to get out. We want to make sure we get them down on the ground. That's the important thing."
• Musgrave said the Vikings will continue to rotate Brandon Fusco and Geoff Schwartz at right guard. Fusco has been the starter all season but Schwartz did play in two series against Washington. It was Schwartz's first action this season. "We're going to stay on that program," Musgrave said. "We feel good about both those guys playing right guard, so we're going to try to keep them fresh and get production out of that position."
• Defensive end Everson Griffen was scheduled to leave the Vikings on Thursday night to go to Arizona so he can attend his mother's funeral on Saturday. Griffen's mother, 52-year-old Sabrina Scott, passed away last week while visiting her son in the Twin Cities. Frazier said Griffen is due to return to Minneapolis-St. Paul on Saturday night and play in Sunday's game. Vikings general manager Rick Spielman will represent the team at the funeral.
• Safety Robert Blanton (hamstring), linebacker Marvin Mitchell (calf) and cornerback Antoine Winfield (knee) were limited in practice for a second consecutive day Thursday. Running back Matt Asiata was added to the injury report because of an issue with his knee that limited him. Quarterback Christian Ponder (knee) was on the report but did not miss any time for the second day in a row.
• The Cardinals had two changes to their injury report as defensive tackle Darnell Dockett (hamstring) and linebacker O'Brien Schofield (knee) were able to go through the entire practice after being limited on Wednesday. Quarterback Kevin Kolb (ribs), safety Kerry Rhodes (back), fullback Anthony Sherman (knee), cornerback Greg Toler (hamstring) and linebacker Reggie Walker (head) sat out again. Cornerback Michael Adams (hamstring), linebacker Quentin Groves (hamstring) and tight end Todd Heap (knee) remained limited.
• The Vikings made yet another practice squad move involving defensive end Ernest Owusu and guard Tyler Holmes. This time, Holmes was signed to the practice squad and Owusu was waived off of it. The two seem to be trading places every few weeks on the practice squad.