Jared Allen: Like Freeney, and Funny

New defensive end Jared Allen loves to joke with the media, but his talent is no joke for a Vikings defense that is craving sacks from the defensive end position. See what Allen had to say and how defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier compares Allen to Dwight Freeney, another pass-rushing end Frazier coached.

It hasn't taken new Vikings defensive end Jared Allen long to become comfortable with the media. He was personable and relaxed in his introductory press conference, despite some tough questions about his past transgressions while a member of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Now, after addressing those issues time and again with the local media over the last month, Allen has taken "relaxed" to a whole new level. He looks for an opportunity to insert a one-liner or joke in response to many questions from the media.

Asked this week how it felt to get out and experience full-team practices for the first time with his new team, he said, "It feels good. I look good in purple – that's what I keep hearing. It really highlights my eyes and my facial features."

Coming in as the highest-paid defensive player in the league and the reigning sacks champion with 15½ last year, Allen was asked if he enjoyed playing with Pro Bowler defensive tackles Pat and Kevin Willliams. He took that as an opportunity for sarcasm in explaining how veteran players feel about organized team activities (OTAs) in the heart of the offseason before explaining that he can't get a true feel for his teammates on the defensive until the pads go on.

"We're just having fun out here right now. These OTAs are – they're the greatest thing ever," he said with a laugh. "It's tough. You don't have pads on. You just have your shorts on, so you're just out here getting a feel for people. For me, I use it more as a chance to get the rust off, getting in and out of your stance, your start, starting to pick up on your keys and kind of just getting a feel for the system. But I'm excited to be out here with those two. Those two are always fun, although Pat isn't participating right now. But like I said, it's been great. Everybody has been welcoming. The players are great, the coaches are great, the staff is great and the city is great. I couldn't be happier."

Asked if he felt his new teammates looked to him as a leader already, he said, "Actually, nobody said a word to me. I think they all hate me. Just kidding. Yeah, we're just out there laughing and joking around."

The fact is, Allen's talent is no joke. After getting 17½ sacks as a senior at Idaho State, he was only a fourth-round draft pick of the Chiefs. In his four seasons in the league, he is second only to Miami's Jason Taylor for sacks during that time period.

In Allen, the Vikings saw one of the NFL's best pass rushers whose age would indicate he is just entering the prime of his career. They also had a need at the position after no one player on the team produced more than five sacks last year, leaving defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier to blitz often to create pressure on the quarterback.

But Frazier also knows what an asset a pass-rushing Pro Bowl defensive end can be. He was part of a defensive coaching staff with the Indianapolis Colts that had Dwight Freeney as their pass-rushing asset. So what are the similarities and differences in Freeney and Allen?

"Well, the similarity between the two is they're high-motor guys," Frazier said. "I mean, Dwight played hard. He wanted to get after that quarterback. Now, every down was a pass down in his mind. He was going to rush the quarterback, and that's all right because it resulted in great success.

"But Jared has that same motor. He is a high-motor guy who plays hard every down. As a defensive coach, that's what you want. You don't want to have to always get after guys about running to the ball or playing hard, and you never have to say that about Dwight or Jared. Both of those guys play hard. Then you combine that with great physical talent. They are tremendous talents in their own way. Dwight's biggest asset is his speed. The guy ran a 4.4 coming out, whereas Jared is a matter of effort and then he's so long. He probably led the league a year ago in batted balls and is just a tremendous effort player who can also run. (They're both) guys who have a passion for the game and have a desire to win and those are great characteristics to have."

The Vikings probably have enough talent on defense to mask a potential run-stopping deficiency in a great pass-rushing end, but Frazier admitted that Allen is probably better at that aspect of the game than Freeney.

"Dwight would probably get mad at me if I said that, but I think Jared probably plays the run a little bit better," Frazier said. "Not any slight to Dwight – he's very good at what he does – but they're both very good players in their own right."

Allen indicated he doesn't make things too complicated at his position. While he uses the offseason practices to work on his technique, one credo remains the same for him, no matter the team.

"It's pretty much the same – see ball, get ball. No, there's not a whole lot of learning. It's just terminology, different terminology," he said. "It's pretty much the same stuff, but that's what this time of year is all about. It's kind of like spring ball in college, going out and just getting the rust off and getting the hang of the program."

For Allen, there is one major drawback to these non-contact practices the Vikings started this week. Defensive players aren't allowed to touch the quarterback – a real downer for a high-motor player who is used to wrestling them to the ground.

"Yeah, we're not allowed to touch them. I wish they'd bring more in," Allen said.

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