Allen fuels speculation

Jared Allen doesn't shy away from a sound bite, an endearing trait for media members. When the defensive end was confronted with questions about his shoulder or allegations that he had a dirty hit against QB Matt Schaub, Allen took on the questions like he does offensive linemen – full speed ahead and without hesitation.

For those who have worked in the Vikings media contingent, Jared Allen has been a breath of fresh air since his arrival to Minnesota. He has become one of the most quotable Vikings in franchise history because he says what is on his mind and doesn't have contrived answers for those who throw out questions – some legitimate, some bordering on inane.

He's never at a loss for words or for a good sound bite. That is a refreshing change for a Vikings team that has been marked with star players not exactly loving the local media types. There are some who contend the reason Fran Tarkenton, the first franchise player of the Vikings, didn't get inducted in the Hall of Fame on his first year of eligibility was due to his contentious nature with the media. Cris Carter was extremely hot and cold – he would be open and willing to talk one day and angry and dismissive the next, usually favor a camera-carrying media type over a notebook-carrying one. Randy Moss was typically sullen and unwilling to speak. Daunte Culpepper relied heavily on a half-dozen buzz phrases to deflect just about any probing question. For years, John Randle opted not to speak at all. So having Allen around has made life a lot of easier for those who enjoy the wacky video clip, clever quip or sassy turn of a phrase.

Allen was front and center Wednesday, fielding questions on topics other than the Green Bay Packers. The most obvious centered on his injured shoulder, but just as many inquiries concerned comments made by Houston coach Gary Kubiak about what he said was a cheap shot taken by Allen at Texans quarterback Matt Schaub. If there was such a thing as post-game bulletin board material, Kubiak provided it and Allen said he rejects Kubiak's claim and said he should have consulted with his quarterback about his opinion of the play.

"I just found about (Kubiak's allegation) when (the reporters) starting asking me about it," Allen said. "I really don't care what he (Kubiak) thinks of me. It doesn't make any difference at all. I know it wasn't a cheap hit. Schaub knows it wasn't a cheap hit. This is my fifth year in the league and people know my reputation. I play hard, I'm intense, but I'm not a dirty player."

On the play in question, Allen was being blocked as he attempted to get around a Texans blocker and was in the process of going to the ground. He made a final leap toward Schaub to wrap him up and, almost simultaneously, Kevin Williams came upright and hit Schaub high. Allen said they had a couple of plays that critics would call "high-low" plays – one linemen going for the legs while another comes at the chest of the quarterback.

Vikings coach Brad Childress said he didn't think the hit was illegal.

"When I looked at it on Monday morning, I did not see it as illegal. If you look at it, his foot slipped as he was coming back because he went by the pile," Childress said. "I don't know if he lost relationship with where the ball was or what. I just know he was trying to get back to his feet. He got rode by, had effort coming. I kept going by it. I thought it was a good throw and a hustle play."

Allen said plays like that happen all the time and that he didn't think the hit did any damage.

"To be honest, I didn't even know he got hurt on the play," Allen said. "He stayed in for the rest of the first half. I talked to him after the game. I asked him, ‘Are you doing alright?' He said, ‘I got my MCL.' I said ‘My bad.' It's never on purpose. I'm just going to wrap his legs up and try to get a sack. We're trying to win a football game. I've got better things to think about than trying to purposely hurt somebody. We were joking after game – we got your knee and you got my shoulder."

When asked if he thought a fine might be coming from the league, Allen scoffed at the notion. His opinion as a defensive end is clearly biased when it comes to the protection of quarterbacks more than the other 21 players on the field, but Allen said, despite being unintentional, a violent game in the NFL spawns plays like that every week in every game.

"You can't make rules to try to tame it down," Allen said. "This is what we do. We're grown men. We make the decision to do what we do. We can get peeled on a crackback (block). In the Texans-Titans game, they blindsided (Kyle) Vanden Bosch. He was in a pass rush and he got peeled from a tight end motioning from the outside in. He couldn't see anybody, but there's nothing illegal about that. There's nothing illegal about me getting T-boned in the side of the head or two offensive linemen don't ‘high-low' me. But I don't throw touchdown passes, so therefore we're not the special ones."

Childress wasn't surprised that Kubiak commented on the hit "from the standpoint that he lost his quarterback for an extended period of time. You're usually trying to advocate those guys."

After dismissing discussion of Kubiak's contentions, the focus turned to Allen's right shoulder. He suffered a strain of the AC joint that reportedly required a pain-killing injection for him to return to action Sunday. Such injuries are graded on a scale of one to three. As was expected, head coach Brad Childress provided little in the way of insight into the severity of the injury or Allen's potential availability for Sunday's game. Allen, who has never suffered a shoulder injury during his career, was asked what the level of the strain was. In his typical fashion, he answered the question … sort of.

"A three or something – I don't know if that's good or bad," Allen said. "Is that good or bad? I'm not a doctor."

Allen was informed that, of the three levels of AC joint sprains, a Level 3 is the worst. He didn't show the symptoms of a player with that much shoulder damage. In fact, the shoulder wasn't harnessed over even bandaged as he made his way through the locker room before practice. He provided little in the way of medical insight, but, when asked if it might be smart to rest the shoulder for a week and miss the Green Bay game rather than potentially risk aggravating the injury and turn one week of inactivity into three or four, Allen made his feelings crystal clear.

"I'm not a smart person," Allen said with a chuckle. "I don't look at the future. I play week by week. If I can play this week, I'll play. If they tell me I can't and convince me of that, then I won't. But it's early to be talking about that. It's Wednesday. All I'm thinking about is eating lunch and getting therapy after I get through."

If Allen's shoulder doesn't respond, Childress said that Brian Robison would start Sunday in his place. Robison said his preparation won't change depending on Allen's availability, other than getting more snaps with the first-team defense.

"I go in every week as if I'm going to start the game," Robison said. "I make sure on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays that I take the steps that, if I'm thrown in there, I'm fine to go."

Robison said he will take on the challenge of going heads-up with Chad Clifton, the Packers veteran left tackle who has consistently frustrated Allen in their two matchups the last two seasons. He has been spending his time with Allen to improve and refine his own technique and is itching to show that improvement on game day.

"Playing behind Jared has allowed me to learn a lot of stuff from him," Robison said. "I'm going to make sure that, when I get an opportunity, I take advantage of it. Any time you can learn from the best, it's a good thing."

Whether Allen is trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the media by overplaying the extent of the injury in an attempt to lull the Packers into a false sense of security with the belief he won't play or downplaying the injury in hopes they will prepare for him, he isn't letting on.

For the first time, he went to the interview playbook and told media, fans and the Packers alike that they just to wait and see how the week progresses.

"Right now, I think they have me listed as not playing," Allen said. "It's not my decision. Coach (Childress) and (head trainer Eric Sugarman), they'll make that call. We'll see how it plays out. My focus right now is to get my shoulder back."


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