Zulgad: Jared Allen makes it clear he has no interest in playing less
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MANKATO, Minn. - This could get interesting.
Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier and new defensive coordinator Alan Williams have both talked in recent days about using a "hockey philosophy" when it comes to rotating defensive linemen in and out to keep them fresh this season.
On the surface it sounds like a grand idea.
The issue is apparently no one has brought it up to Pro Bowl and iron-man defensive end Jared Allen. If you didn't know this already, the right end has no interest in watching his defensive teammates from the sideline.
"No, they are probably going to drop that on me towards the beginning of the season and I'll get really (mad) at them," Allen said Wednesday when asked if the subject had been broached.
Last season, Allen played a remarkable 1,000 of 1,058 gradable snaps (94.5 percent) on defense and finished with 22 sacks. That put him a half-sack behind Michael Strahan's single-season NFL record set during the 2001 season. By comparison, Vikings left end Brian Robison played a lot but he was in for only 82.7 percent of the snaps in 2011.
"We do feel like we have good depth on the defensive line," Frazier said. "Being able to rotate those guys and keep them fresh, in particular Jared and Brian Robison, that's a big deal."
Allen, who turned 30 in April, said that he is willing to do anything to help the Vikings win games and improve on last season's 3-13 finish. But that doesn't mean he isn't going to give his opinion on the subject.
"My thing is I work so hard in the offseason to get in the best shape that I can my theory always has been, 'You want to rest me, rest me during the week because I get paid to play on Sundays,'" he said. "That's when I'm out there to make plays. I feel like if I'm on the field, I can make a play to help our team win.
"I understand that you have to have rotations and I'm going to do what's asked of me. There will be a diplomatic conversation if they ask me to roll back too much. But, no, I feel good. I work my butt off to be able to make sure I can play 60-70 snaps a game.
"Now there's times in a game where, yeah, you're on a 12-play drive, I don't need to tap my helmet. I'm like, 'Hey, come on (take me out for a play).' I know it's part of it. I'm not looking forward to it if it happens, but that's just because I'm a competitor and I think I can make every play when I'm out there."
Allen isn't kidding when he talks about his offseason program getting him ready to play football.
He has an offseason home in Arizona and employs trainers there to work with him in his home gym. In fact, Allen doesn't take part in the Vikings' program at Winter Park because he believes so strongly in how he goes about getting ready for the season.
His workout program has included Mixed Martial Arts training for the past six years.
"I've got a strict workout routine that I do," Allen said. "I have my trainers as far as my kickboxing trainer, my jujitsu trainer and then I mountain bike a lot. ... By the end of my kickboxing, we go an hour straight, 10-minute rounds. It's brutal. I know (with) the workout put in the gym, I'm never going to be that tired out there."
Despite his extensive playing time in 2011, Allen refused to say the workload caught up with him in his eighth NFL season.
"No, (former defensive line coach Karl) Dunbar did a great job of managing us and Coach (Brendan) Daly's been doing the same thing at training camp already," Allen said. "He's been managing Kevin (Williams) and I's reps. I like to work efficiently. I don't like to just work dumbly.
"As long as we get our work in, coach knows where we're at and they know physically we're fine. For me, I don't really ever pay attention to the amount of snaps. If the game is going, we're trying to win football games.
"In my opinion, you put your best players on the field trying to win football games. So at 3-13, unfortunately, I had to play a lot of football trying to win football games. Now, it's a double-edge sword because you get up 14 points, 'Don't take me off the field (because) I want to go pass rush.'
"But if I ever feel the snaps are too much I'll retire. Until then I'm going to try to play until the wheels fall off. That's my mentality come Sunday. Don't take me off the field because I feel like I've prepared in the offseason, through training camp and through the regular work week to play every snap on Sunday."
That might be the case, but all indications are at some point Frazier and Williams are going to approach Allen about scaling back.
"Keep them fresh, keep them running so they can make plays," Williams said when asked about his philosophy of moving linemen in and out. "When we're at the end of the ballgame and the game is on the line, we have to close it out. It's just that at the end, we want the guys fresh and we want to close it out.
"That is game specific and season specific so at the end of the year we don't have a guy that has 1,000 reps under his belt. We want guys to be fresh so that when the playoffs come down the line, we're ready to hunt."
Allen's issue is that when it comes to football, he's ready to hunt all of the time and don't tell him that reducing his snaps now is going to help him prolong his career.
"I guess, honestly, we all have a certain amount of plays in us. It could end tomorrow," he said. "They could put me on a snap regimen, someone could take my knee out. ... I don't ever think about that.
"That's what is cool about our league. We only have 16 games so every single one of them matters. It's not like baseball, you can go sit down on the DL for 15 days and try to get some legs back. They all count. So for me, leave me out there, and if I (get injured) on the field, I (get injured) on the field."