Jared Allen is one of the NFL's elite pass rushers, but he found a flaw in his game that he is looking to correct after reviewing his film from last year.
"I remember early in the year last year I missed like four or five sacks going for a strip, so one thing in my mind I'm just always trying to secure the tackle first," Allen said. "There's just little things [I'm] trying to constantly learn and improve and work on my quickness and really try to get off [with the snap of the ball]. I think at this stage of my career it's more mental. It's really fine-tuning things and small angles. Nothing major. As long as my body's in shape to be able to handle 70 plays a game full speed, I'm ready to rock."
After last season, Allen moved into third place all-time on the NFL list with 83 sacks in his first seven seasons, trailing only Derrick Thomas (85) and Reggie White (110).
When informed that new starting left defensive end Brian Robison said people shouldn't automatically assume that Allen will lead the Vikings in sacks again this year – he has each of the last three years – Allen scoffed at the notion.
"Oh, come on now. We all know that's going to happen. Let's be honest with ourselves," Allen said. "Maybe he'll sneak up on some people, but I'll send letters to the other teams, ‘Hey, Brian's coming off the edge.' But that's the kind of competition we like to have."
Allen has a team-record 40 sacks in the three years since he was acquired via trade from the Kansas City Chiefs – Alan Page's 28.5 sacks in his first three seasons with the Vikings is a distant second – and once again led the team with 11 sacks in 2010.
He has a new motivation for 2011: Not being named to the Pro Bowl following last season.
"Last year being 6-10 was terrible. I'm always eager for something to motivate me. Personally, we were 6-10, I had 11 sacks, could've had a lot more. It was a pretty good individual year," he said. ""[But I] didn't make the Pro Bowl, so that pissed me off. I think I find something every year to piss me off and really get me going for the team. I think I probably won't be happy until I'm tired, and we'll see what happens then."
Besides trying to make sure he secures the sack before trying to cause a fumble, Allen said he isn't trying to add anything major to his game.
"I figure if it's not broke, why fix it? Really this offseason was spent on condition," he said.
ONE STRONG START
Allen has looked impressive in the eight days of training camp so far, but it's difficult to judge if his skills have improved or if going against new left tackle Charlie Johnson is making Allen look better. The Vikings released Bryant McKinnie last week and Johnson was his replacement as soon as he was allowed to practice on Thursday.
"They're different players, honestly. McKinnie's a big guy," Allen said. "He kind of engulfs you when you come around the edge. I think Charlie's – I don't want to say he's more athletic, because McKinnie's an athletic guy – he's quicker. Their sets are a little different. Overall, I think Charlie's probably a little more aggressive in the run-blocking game. You can't compare the two – it's really apples and oranges. They're two totally different kind of players. You've got a big, huge body in McKinnie, who puts that weight on you and it just drains you, and you've got a quicker guy who's really going to try to use his hands and leverage on you."
While Allen has looked quick coming off the edge and getting to the quarterback in the first week-plus of training camp, he understands it may take Johnson some time to settle in with his new teammates and a new offensive line scheme.
"I know what it's like to come to a new team. I mean, obviously, I had OTAs to learn stuff, but learning terminology and trying to process a new system can be tough," Allen said. "I dealt with that when I first came here. You know, what I used to call an 'eight technique' they called a 'six technique' and it took me forever to get my head wrapped around that."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Jared Allen fixing to fix flaw in his game
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