Jared Allen In Top Form As Return To Kansas City Looms

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 26, 2011 – 2:26 pm

There’s a saying in sports that goes something like “sometimes the best trades are the ones you don’t make.” That saying doesn’t apply to the masterpiece of a trade that Vikings VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman executed before the 2008 NFL Draft to acquire DE Jared Allen.

The Vikings acquired Allen in exchange for a 1st-round pick, a 3rd-round pick and a swap of 6th-rounders in 2008. The results have been more than worth the price for the Vikings, as Allen posted back-to-back 14.5-sack seasons in 2008 and 2009, and then put up 11.0 more in 2010. He’s earned 3 Pro Bowls in Minnesota, has been a key cog in the outstanding run defense and joined only Reggie White in NFL history as players with 14.5+ sacks in three straight seasons.

Last season, Allen got off to a slow start and had just 1.0 sack through Week 8. But then he went on a tear and registered 4.5 sacks over a two-week span, helping him finish with 11.0 on the season, the 4th consecutive season he recorded double-digit sacks.

This season, though, Allen is off to a great start. He’s recorded at least a .5 sack in each game, extending his streak of games with at least a .5 sack to 5, and last week against Detroit he got to QB Matthew Stafford for a total of 3.0 sacks. Coming into the game, Stafford had not been sacked. The Vikings, with Allen as the leader, changed that quickly and brought him down 5 times during the game.

So Allen is in top form right now and it comes at a great time because he and the Vikings play the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday. Allen spent the first 4 seasons of his career with the Chiefs, and then ran into tougher times with leadership in the organization. The Vikings pounced on the opportunity to grab Allen and the 6-6, 270-pound perennial Pro Bowler has been one of the NFL’s top defensive players ever since.

I expect Allen will downplay his return to Kansas City publically, but I can’t help but wonder if privately this game means more to him than a normal regular season game. Regardless of whom the Vikings are playing, Allen is going to give it everything he’s got. But I have a feeling this week’s game will get his blood boiling with more intensity.

I’m glad I don’t have to block him.

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Sherels Shines With Long Punt Return

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 26, 2011 – 1:27 pm

During every training camp young players – often times undrafted players, too – stand out in practice and then perform well in a preseason games, and they do it to such an extent that they end up challenging for a spot on the 53-man roster. One example of that from this year’s training camp was CB Marcus Sherels.

Whether it be in 7-on-7 passing drills or even full team portions of practice, Sherels seemed to be around the ball a lot and whenever he got his hands on it, he made a play. Then in the Vikings preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sherels grabbed an INT and returned it 64 yards for a TD. That play cemented Sherels’ status as an “up and comer” on the Vikings roster and, ultimately, Sherels did in fact make the final roster.

On Sunday against the Lions, Sherels proved that he’s more than a training camp or preseason standout. He can make a difference in the regular season, too.

Late in the 1st half with the Vikings holding a 13-0 advantage, the Lions offense was forced off the field and into a punting situation. Sherels fielded the punt at the Minnesota 21-yardline. He then proceeded to dance around and dart through the Lions punt coverage team and raced deep into Lions territory, where P Ryan Donahue grabbed his facemask and slowed him enough to let Maurice Stovall bring him down on the Detroit 26.

The end result was a 53-yard punt return that put the Vikings in position to score a TD three plays later and take a 20-0 lead into the locker room at halftime. Obviously the Vikings went on to lose the lead and lose the game, but the point is that play by Sherels represented another step forward in his development as an NFL player. Oh, and for what it’s worth, Sherels added a pair of special teams tackles to his effort on Sunday.

With the Vikings making the commitment to pay big contracts to star players such as Chad Greenway and Adrian Peterson, it’s great to see the scouting staff find players such as Sherels and it’s even greater to see a player such as Sherels deliver on the promise we saw in the preseason.

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