The Free Press, Mankato, MN

August 6, 2013

Allen injured; defense getting banged up

By Chad Courrier
ccourrier@mankatofreepress.com

---- — MANKATO — Jared Allen wasn't going to play in Friday's preseason opener anyway, but after spraining his right ankle during Tuesday's afternoon practice, he could be out a little longer.

Allen suffered the injury to his right foot, the plant foot for a right defensive end, during the full team portion of practice. He limped off the field with a trainer and spent a half-hour in the trainers' tent.

After practice ended, Allen limped to the locker room with his ankle heavily bandaged.

Frazier said he hadn't told Allen that he wouldn't be playing Friday, but the injury makes it a moot point. Frazier said Allen will be checked by doctors to determine if an MRI is necessary.

Everson Griffen takes Allen's place in the base defense, and George Johnson, a third-year player, takes the right end spot in the nickel defense.

Safety Harrison Smith also injured his knee and will be evaluated, though he jogged off the field and into the locker room. Linebacker Erin Henderson (groin) participated in some of the practice but not the contact.

Cornerback A.J. Jefferson (ankle), linebacker Desmond Bishop (groin), cornerback Xavier Rhodes (hamstring) and defensive lineman Christian Ballard (groin) — all defensive players — missed practice. Frazier said he will evalaute the roster after today's practice to determine who would play Friday.

Defensive coordinator Alan Williams said his mantra is "next man up."

"We told them even before camp started, if someone happens to go down, if you’re young, you have to know your assignments and you’re expected to come in and compete and play well," Williams said. "I think that’s part of what makes us a good defense is that the guys know that if someone goes down, they’re expected to come in and not be the next guy, but be themselves and still play well."

Big talker

When it comes to talking, Jamarca Sanford is pretty good. Now that he's a starting safety, his words, many though they be, hold more meaning.

On Tuesday, defensive coordinator Alan Williams and end Jared Allen were both asked who is the the best talker on the team. Both agreed it was Sanford, and anyone who has stood next to a practice field during an intense defensive period would also have noticed.

"Erin enunciates a little better," Allen said. "But Jamarca is definitely louder. He can hit those elevated notes."

Williams said that he has no interest in quieting Sanford, a fifth year safety who took over as a starter early last season.

"That's his personality," Williams said, cracking a wide smile. "I'm not going to hold the reins in."

Sanford said he used his desire to talk more as offseason motivation, figuring he could say more if his play backed it up.

"That's always been the way I am, back to college and high school," Sanford said. "I'm just getting recognized more now that I'm a starter."

Fine line with offense

Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave doesn't want to show the entire offense during Friday's preseason opener against Houston, but he needs to see how his players execute their assignments so they don't go into the regular season having never worked on certain plays against other competition.

"We don’t want our fundamentals to go out the window when we get into a real game situation or a clutch situatio," Musgrave said. "We want to do what we do out here on the practice field, which is to be sound and execute and make some plays."

Peterson on new rule

Running back Adrian Peterson said he felt better about the new rule limiting helmet contact by the offensive player after a meeting with NFL officials Monday. The new rule calls for a penalty if the offensive player lowers his head and uses the crown of his helmet, something Peterson has done in the past.

But after seeing a video of himself, lowering his head before contact in a play that could have led to serious injury, he thought he could adapt his running style.

"I'm going to continue to attack," he said. "But I'll keep my head up a lot."

Notes

The Vikings waived rookie linebacker Nathan Williams, who had been on the physically-unable-to-perform list, and signed Stanford Keglar, a fourth-year linebacker from Purdue. Keglar, who has played for Tennessee and Houston, had been with the Vikings for part of the offseason. Several injuries to the defense prompted a move for depth. ... The play of the day came from Jerome Simpson. He caught a deep slant, and as he's done in the past, tried to hurdle the safety. However, he didn't get quite high enough to avoid the contact. ... There were some small skirmishes during the afternoon practice, though Frazier said that's going to happen when competitive guys keep hitting each other every day. "It's time to start hitting another colored jersey. Friday can't come soon enough."