Lurtsema's Reaction: Allen's chances

Former Vikings defensive lineman Bob Lurtsema has seen plenty of players from the tough era of football play hurt. Maybe that's why he has a contrasting opinion on Jared Allen's possibilities to play against the Packers. Lurtsema talked about that, painkillers, Brian Robison and a growing attitude in the fan base.

VU: What are the possibilities in your mind that Jared Allen plays this Sunday after being declared doubtful?

BL: He has such a tremendously positive attitude that I think his odds are 70 to 80 percent that he will play. There is a pain tolerance on certain athletes – some can take it, some can't. With that type of sprain (shoulder), if you don't risk any further damage where you could hurt it worse, then he's full go. That's what makes him special. In all the years I played, after a while you start to find out who plays hurt and who can't play hurt. Bud Grant could always pick who was going to get hurt and who wasn't durable and he'd cut them in a year or so. Since we're talking like that, let's change my prediction to 90 percent that Allen will play.

VU: Being his right shoulder that is injured and coming from the right side of the line, does that make a difference with your experience playing on the defensive line? Does it matter what shoulder it is or are they both going to get pounded on so hard?

BL: Which shoulder doesn't matter because that's such an emotional high. Fans try to visualize what a great high it is, but it's way beyond that. If you're in the game and you've got that mental toughness, your adrenaline will carry you through that. That's why he took a shot of Novocain. He's not going to be feeling the pain. He's going to be focused on trying to get a quarterback sack, tackle, whatever the situation asks for.

VU: I was going to ask you about the painkillers he took at halftime. Are there regulations on how many of those you can get in a certain timeframe? Is it with Cortisone shots that you can only get those so often?

BL: Cortisone is that way, but Novocain is just a dulling of the pain. It's tricky from the standpoint of, will it potentially affect the player's career. Would you shoot a hamstring up? I don't think so because you wouldn't know if you're going to tear it worse, unless you want to shoot a hammie up in the Super Bowl, but I don't know about that. We used to take it all the time and it wasn't that big of a deal to take a shot of Novocain at halftime. It's a violent game and you're going to get hurt. People that haven't played it or don't have any pain tolerance are the ones that seem to always complain about it, not the players receiving Novocain. But they definitely have to be careful to not let it hurt your injury to a worse degree without you knowing about it. That's the question that doctors, trainers and players have to answer.

VU: Your impression with this injury is that he probably wouldn't hurt it worse by playing with it?

BL: That I can't call. In the rotator cuff area, you've got four muscles there and you don't want to tear those out, but if he sprained it or dislocated it, then they'd put a special brace on where it would limit the rotation of the arm. If that was going to limit him, then I think he'd want it more on the left arm than right with him coming from the right side.

VU: You would think that Robison would get more playing time. What's your impression of how he's played in a limited role so far this year?

BL: He's a tough kid. I like the way he brings it. He actually gave a couple sacks away to some other people, but he's very disruptive. You watch him a couple times and what he saw in front of him and he didn't go with his reads. He got drawn in a little too much. But that's inexperience. He has to get a little more playing time. Any time you're a young ballplayer, the thing you cannot ever do is not get off the ball and go 110 percent. That's the only way you'll ever be able to stick around in this league and become better. If you start getting off slower and trying to read everything, well, there goes your aggressiveness. The expression that most people will understand is that the game will slow down for you. After you see so many reads, what you see will become instinct instead of a thought process.

VU: With the season opener against the Packers and what Aaron Rodgers did there, do you think the Vikings were surprised by what he was able to do and what he brought to the table, and what are your impressions of him since that game?

BL: I was surprised. Whether they were surprised or not, I don't know. I was still crying in my beer that Brett Favre wasn't a Viking and wasn't in Green Bay. I just loved the guy. I was kind of anti-Rodgers. He's been sacked 17 times. He likes to scramble and get outside and run on his own. He does like to get up and go. I think he would be more apt to be sacked where I think Brett Favre would be more apt to throw an interception or get rid of the ball. That's the difference in the two. But I am eating a little bit of crow with Rodgers. But when you've got a Western Michigan wide receiver, all good athletes do come from Western Michigan (of course, that's Lurtsema's alma mater).

VU: How big of a game is this? If the Vikings end up losing this, is it about as close as you can get to the playoffs being out of reach nine games into the season?

BL: It's a huge game for them because they would get behind in the tie-breakers in the division if they would lose. But the worst thing is that if they lose and lose it because of bad calls or bad decisions, it's going to bring back that chant: "Fire Childress." They've got to get rid of that if they're going to be successful. That has got to stop. Besides being a division game, it's more important to get the crowd to buy into Gus Frerotte and the great job he's doing and get off the big-time negativity of Childress. I think it's a huge game. They can say that it's how you play in December, but right now it's huge because you go on the road for two weeks with Tampa Bay and Jacksonville. Jacksonville is getting hungrier and hungrier every week, and I think Jack Del Rio and Mike Tice would get a kick out of sticking it to the Vikings.

Bob Lurtsema registered 57 careers sacks as 12-year veteran defensive lineman in the NFL, playing with the Baltimore Colts, New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks, and the longtime publisher of Viking Update. He joins for a weekly Q & A session, and his monthly column appears in the magazine.

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