Notebook: Jared Allen says facing two blockers isn't the worst thing
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Right end Jared Allen has two sacks in the Minnesota Vikings' first four games, after having 6.5 through the same number of games last season.
Allen went on to finish 2011 with an NFL-leading 22 sacks, leaving him a half-sack away from Michael Strahan's single-season record.
The fact Allen got so close to the record, and is one of the NFL's elite pass rushers, means opponents are even more focused on stopping him this season.
In the Vikings' victory Sunday at Detroit, the Lions continued to bring in tackle Riley Reiff as a sixth lineman in order to provide chip help on Allen and left end Brian Robison.
Allen still finished with five pressures on Matthew Stafford, including a sack he got after defensive tackle Kevin Williams kept the Lions quarterback in the pocket.
Allen, who did not practice Wednesday or Thursday because of a groin injury, explained there are ways to approach a situation in which a blocker gets chip help.
"Sometimes that will screw up an offensive line," he said. "(The lineman) might think he has chip help where the running back might not. He might sit low on you, or he might sit over the top, so you can do some things that way. You really just have to take it for what it is. You can spin off of it, you can chip the chipper, there's different philosophies that go with (it).
"It's part of it and you just adjust to it. They're trying to slow you down, they're trying to get you to stop your feet and stop your momentum, but there's things you can do off of it."
Allen said in the Vikings' upset victory over San Francisco in Week 3 at the Metrodome, the 49ers attempted to provide chip blocks with a tight end drawing the assignment.
"We were able to beat the guy inside and now you've got the quarterback off his spot," Allen said. "With everything you do, there's always an opening to try to take advantage of it and you've just got to weather those storms. If you're successful on first and second down and you get up on the scoreboard, they've got to kind of spread the offense out a little more. They've got to get more guys out in the routes, so you can take advantage late in the game."
The Vikings are hoping Allen can practice on Friday, and coach Leslie Frazier expressed confidence that Allen will be able to play Sunday against Tennessee at the Metrodome.
Percy Harvin was named the NFC's special teams player of the month for September, marking the first time in Vikings history a return specialist has earned the award.
Harvin leads the league with a 38.3 kick return average and recorded the longest play in Vikings history with a 105-yard touchdown return on the opening kickoff last Sunday at Detroit.
Harvin has returned nine kickoffs for 345 yards this month and has five career kick returns for touchdowns. Only Gale Sayers had more (six) during the first four years of his career. This is Harvin's first career player of the month honor.
Erin Henderson appears set to return after missing two games because of a concussion, but middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley has done enough in the nickel defense that he will remain on the field in those situations.
Henderson and Greenway had stayed in the game during the opening two weeks when a fifth defensive back entered. Now, it will be Brinkley and Greenway.
"He's done a great job," defensive coordinator Alan Williams said. "He's taking command of the huddle, the huddle is his, the defense is his and we see him growing and feeling more comfortable with leading the group. From the huddle, to making the calls, to executing those calls in nickel so we feel good about that."
Brinkley had a big play last Sunday when he made a tackle on Lions receiver Calvin Johnson after a 6-yard gain on a third-and-7 play from the Detroit 34-yard line early in the second quarter.
"We're asking (Brinkley) also to run down the middle of the field and play essentially a deep third in cover two," Williams said. "That's what we like about him.
"That one play was outstanding in terms of him seeing the quarterback, moving as the quarterback's eyes moved and then breaking on the ball, anticipating the throw and then making the tackle. That's important too that he hit him and there were no yards after the catch. That's exactly what we're asking him to do in that instance."
Work in progress
Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said that rookie kicker Blair Walsh "got a little too close to the ball" on the 46-yard field-goal attempt he missed wide left Sunday in the fourth quarter in Detroit.
It was Walsh's first miss of the season and he is now nine of 10 on field-goal attempts.
"He probably lunged into it a little bit and then wrapped his foot around it," Priefer said. "He'll do that every now and again in practice. We'll work in here and we worked on that (Wednesday). After the special-teams period, we come in here every Wednesday and do about 20, 25 field goals with those three guys and continue to work on their chemistry and the things were trying to get better (at).
"But it's all about consistency and I think his timing was good there. That was my first inclination was that it might have been too fast but his timing was fine. He just wrapped his foot around it a little bit."
• Punter Chris Kluwe, who is 19th in the NFL in gross punting average at 46 yards and 14th in net average at 40.2 yards, continues to be more inconsistent than the Vikings want. "He readily admits that," Priefer said. "He came up with some big punts again and every game it seems like one or two are huge punts for us and then one or two, we need to survive that. ... You want him to be more consistent. He wants to be more consistent and he knows we need to get there for him to play at a high level every week." Kluwe did have a key punt late in the fourth quarter at Detroit that went 47 yards and was downed at the Vikings 2-yard line.