With shoulder and knee operations – the first surgeries of Jared Allen's nine-year career – the Minnesota Vikings' star defensive end said he has his full array of moves back.
In the past, Allen has said his body never felt more beat up than during the 2012 season. In addition to playing last year with a torn labrum and needing minor knee surgery, the effects of dealing with his shoulder also led to a lack of sleep.
Allen is feeling as good as ever, sleeping through the night and then executing all the moves he used to before his shoulder limited the effectiveness of his moves.
"It's huge, and it's not like I didn't have (the moves) last year. I just didn't have the strength. It can be a matter of four inches that can cost you a sack or not a sack," Allen said. "So just having the strength and the confidence to know that when I do an inside move I can clear myself across somebody. Having that confidence to know if I get run up too high I can club back without the shoulder falling off. So it's been good."
Last year, Allen had 12 sacks in the regular season, down 10 sacks from his near-record-breaking 2011 season and the second lowest output since he joined the Vikings in 2008.
Since coming to Minnesota in a trade during the 2009 season, Allen has 64 sacks in 80 regular season games and four sacks in five playoff appearances.
With his productivity from his first four seasons as Kansas City, Allen has 117 sacks in 141 NFL games – 16th on the all-time NFL sacks list.
He said he is hoping not to play in Friday's preseason opener against the Houston Texans and he likely won't. He believes his shoulder is getting tested enough in training camp practices that he can afford to sit out of Friday night's game.
"They get tested in here. The knee thing was easy," Allen said. "The shoulder, (Matt) Kalil has made a big jump so he's been pushing me through this camp as far as just giving me different sets, different looks and forcing me to rush on rushes that I couldn't do last year – inside stabs, hump moves and stuff like that. Really getting my left arm in there and using it and testing it and it's been great. I feel healthy. I feel strong. I feel like I've got all my repertoire of all I need to get done and just continue to get mentally sharp and prepared for the season."
Despite his most health-challenged season (by his admission) that he's ever had, Allen still played in 93 percent of the defensive snaps. With that kind of workload, he is afforded rest during camp.
"The coaches have done a phenomenal job of keeping me fresh," he said. "I couldn't be happier right now."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
With strength back, Allen's moves return
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