Even after spending more than 10 days with the team in Mankato during training camp and watching the entire roster play preseason games, you just never know how everything will unfold once the regular season arrives. But there are some things you can see coming clear as day. And if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times: Jared Allen had the best training camp of any Vikings player.
Through 3 games in the regular season, his play on the field affirms that observation. And you can count Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier among those who saw an impressive start to the season coming for Allen.
“I just know in my conversations with him when we came to training camp, you could sense the commitment that he had to having a great start and a great year,” Frazier said on Wednesday. “He was so disappointed in a year ago, that the work that he put into this offseason felt like it was going to pay dividends. Boy, he’s off to a great start.”
Allen, who had just 1.0 sack through Week 8 last year, already has 4.5 sacks this season. Last week against Detroit, a team who came into the game having allowed zero sacks, Allen got to QB Matthew Stafford for 3.0 sacks.
While we associate Allen with being the team’s best pass rusher, the perennial Pro Bowler is also stepping up in other areas. He’s an important part of the Vikings run defense – he almost had a game-winning safety against Detroit last week on a running play – and Frazier says Allen has also stepped up as a leader on the team.
“He’s playing at a high level versus the run, he’s doing a great job of rushing the passer,” Frazier said. “I don’t think you could ask for a whole lot more. He’s doing a terrific job of leading our team in the locker room. He’s really stepped up in all areas, just good for our team.”
Last week the Vikings lost their third consecutive game in heart-wrenching fashion and at points both during the game and in the aftermath Allen was vocal. But he wasn’t a negative influence in his outspokenness. Rather, Frazier says he was being exactly the type of leader the team needs, whether it’s in times of struggle or times of prosperity.
“We talked during the week with some of our leaders about making sure everyone was emotionally engaged in the game, no matter what the scoreboard said or how much time was on the clock,” Frazier explained. “And Jared was one of those guys who did a great job of stepping up and just encouraging guys and making sure that they stayed engaged in the game, both mentally and physically. It was just good encouragement for our players and for our team. We need that from him and from some of our other leaders as well.”
What the Vikings need now is a win to generate some positive momentum and hopefully get back to the .500 mark as soon as possible. With the way he’s playing through the first three games, Allen looks to be the perfect impetus to get a turnaround started.
Tags: Jared Allen, Leslie Frazier
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