CB Asher Allen Retires

Posted by Mike Wobschall on May 30, 2012 – 12:11 pm

Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier met with reporters on Wednesday afternoon to discuss his team’s progress through the first two Organized Team Activities (OTAs). But one matter of business Frazier addressed had to do with a player who is not at Vikings OTAs.

Asher Allen, a 3rd-round pick of the Vikings in 2009 out of Georgia, has decided to retire, and the Vikings have consequently placed him on the Reserve/Retired list.

Allen played in 37 games with 21 starts for the Vikings over three seasons, tallying 129 tackles, 1.0 sacks, 4 INTs, 18 pass breakups, 1.0 tackles for loss and 1 forced fumble; he also had 12 special teams tackles.

The Vikings now have 16 DBs listed on the roster.

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Asher Allen, Hutchinson Ruled Out; All Others Probable

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 23, 2011 – 11:54 am

The Vikings on Friday ruled CB Asher Allen (concussion/shoulder) and LG Steve Hutchinson out for Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field. Both players sustained their concussions last week against the Saints and neither player was able to participate in practice this week.

RG Anthony Herrera (knee), S Jarrad Page (hamstring), DT Kevin Williams (knee) and LB Erin Henderson (illness) were all full participants in practice on Friday and are all listed as probable.

Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier said earlier in the week that Joe Berger would start if Hutchinson was unable to play. It’s expected that rookie interior lineman Brandon Fusco could also see some action with Hutchinson unavailable.

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Peterson Limited, Ponder Full Participant In Wednesday Practice

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 14, 2011 – 3:20 pm

The Vikings returned to the practice field on Wednesday morning as they begin on-field preparations for the New Orleans Saints. And with the return to the practice field comes the return of injury reports. It’s mostly good news for the Vikings on the week’s first injury report.

The only player who did not participate in practice was WR Greg Camarillo, who was held out with concussion-like symptoms. Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier said Camarillo came to the team with the symptoms on Tuesday, and he also said that Camarillo will be evaluated throughout the week.

Limited in practice for the Vikings on Wednesday were E.J. Henderson (shoulder), S Jarrad Page (hip) and RB Adrian Peterson (ankle). Frazier that Peterson looks to be much improved from even a week ago and it seems as if the team is optimistic that their star running back will be able to return on Sunday. CB Asher Allen (shoulder) and QB Christian Ponder (hip) were also on the injury report, but both were fall participants and are expected to play on Sunday.

For the Saints, the following players were held out of practice: RB Mark Ingram (toe), LB Jonathan Casillas (knee) and LB Jonathan Vilma (knee). Limited in practice was DE Turk McBride (ankle) and full participants in practice were CB Tracy Porter (wrist), DT Sedrick Ellis (hamstring), TE Jimmy Graham (back) and LB Scott Shanle (shoulder).

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Sunday’s Inactives Give Several Vikings Youngsters A Look

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 30, 2011 – 9:35 am

The inactive list and several other circumstances leading up to today’s game will give several young Vikings players plenty of playing time. Let’s take a look at a few of them…

QB Christian Ponder – He’ll be making his 2nd consecutive start today after a good debut showing last week against the Green Bay Packers. Ponder will go head-to-head against another rookie QB in Cam Newton, who is far and away the NFL’s most sensational first-year player. Today marks the first time in franchise history that the Vikings and their opponent will both start rookies at QB.

WR Stephen Burton – When Bernard Berrian was released earlier in the week, it was Burton who was promoted to the active roster. Not only is he on the 53-man roster, he’s active today and it looks like he could get a look at kickoff returner with Lorenzo Booker among the inactives.

CBs Asher Allen, Brandon Burton and Marcus Sherels – These 3 youngsters will see significant action today with Antoine Winfield inactive (neck) and Chris Cook on a leave of absence from the team. This will be Burton’s 3rd game on the active roster, Allen will get the start opposite Cedric Griffin and Sherels will be on the field whenever the Vikings are in their nickel defense.

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Late Run Falls Short, Vikings Lose 33-27 To Packers

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 23, 2011 – 6:44 pm

Starting a rookie QB and facing an undefeated defending Super Bowl champion, the Vikings weren’t expected to give their opponents much of a challenge on Sunday. But as is the case so often in the NFL, the expected didn’t happen. The Vikings had the ball and a chance to win late in the 4th quarter, but saw their comeback attempt fall painstakingly short, allowing the Green Bay Packers to leave Mall of America Field with a 33-27 victory.

It was Christian Ponder’s first career NFL start, but it didn’t take him long to get right into this heated Vikings-Packers rivalry. On the game’s first offensive play, Ponder used a play-action fake and rollout to find a wide open Michael Jenkins down the left sideline for what was originally a 73-yard TD that caused the Mall of America Field crowd to burst into a frenzy. Officials took the TD away via replay, but just two plays later Ponder found TE Visanthe Shiancoe for a 2-yard TD and an early 7-0 lead.

Ponder made mistakes in the game – he threw 2 INTs and completed 40.6% of his passes – but ultimately he showed poise under pressure and got his teammates to play hard around him.

The Vikings scored 3 offensive TDs, and two of them were TD tosses from Ponder. The other TD came from Adrian Peterson, who carried the ball 24 times and gained 175 yards. With Ponder posing as a threat to move the ball through the air, Peterson found a little extra room in the running game and he took advantage, registering runs of 54, 29 and 25 yards.

Ponder spread the ball around, hitting 6 different targets for 219 total yards. Jenkins was Ponder’s most productive receiver, as he hauled in 3 receptions for 111 yards and 1 TD. Shiancoe had 4 grabs for 45 yards and the score, while both Greg Camarillo and Percy Harvin had 2 receptions; Harvin missed much of the 2nd half because of a rib injury.

Green Bay retaliated immediately after the Vikings scored on their first drive, going 91 yards in 9 plays to tie the game at 7 on a 2-yard pass from QB Aaron Rodgers to FB John Kuhn. Rodgers guided a passing attack that methodically drove down the field against the Vikings on that first scoring drive, and it was a sign of things to come for Rodgers and Co. Rodgers completed 24 of 30 passes for 335 yards and 3 TDs on the afternoon.

Following the Packers first score, Ponder responded by guiding another TD drive in the 2nd quarter that culminated in Peterson’s TD, and a 14-7 lead. The Vikings and Packers exchanged FGs after that, which led to a 17-10 Vikings lead at halftime.

Green Bay came out in the 3rd quarter and scored 20 points behind more precision from Rodgers in the passing game. The Green Bay QB found a wide open Greg Jennings thanks to busted coverage for a 79-yard TD right away in the 3rd quarter, and then the Packers scored only minutes later on a 2-yard strike from Rodgers to TE Jermichael Finley. The Packers added 2 more Mason Crosby FGs to take a 33-17 lead into the 4th quarter.

From there, though, Green Bay was done scoring. The Vikings defense held Green Bay out of scoring range and Ponder rallied from a poor 3rd quarter to nearly pull off an upset. He guided the offense 93 yards in 10 plays to score a TD – Jenkins hauled in a 24-yard TD pass – and bring the Vikings to within just 6 points.

The Vikings defensed forced a Green Bay punt after just 4 plays on the ensuing drive, and Ponder took over from his own 2-yardline after a special teams miscue by the Vikings. Missing his best receiver (Harvin), Ponder willed the offense to a pair of 3rd-down conversions, but the Vikings couldn’t extend the drive on a 3rd and 10 play from their own 36. Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier made the right move and punted the ball away, thinking his defense – armed with 3 timeouts and the 2-minute warning – could stop Green Bay’s attempts to drain the clock.

But the Packers executed better than the Vikings in the game’s final 2:30, and they were able to run out the clock and come away with a hard-fought 33-17 victory.

CB Asher Allen and LB Chad Greenway each finished with a team-high 11 tackles, while DE Jared Allen collected 2.0 sacks. Allen now has the Vikings franchise record for consecutive games with at least a .5 sack; he’s at 9 now, and surpassed the previous mark set by Jim Marshall and matched by Carl Eller.

The loss drops the Vikings to 1-6 on the season. And while moral victories don’t count in the standings, the Vikings and their fans came away from Mall of America Field on Sunday encouraged by what they saw from their rookie QB and a secondary that was over-matched against Rodgers and Co.

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Vikings Secondary Is Prepared If Winfield Can’t Go

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 14, 2011 – 1:26 pm

Immediate reaction following last Sunday’s win over the Arizona Cardinals was that the young Vikings secondary, which played without Pro Bowler Antoine Winfield, stepped up in a big way. And Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier shared a similar reaction after the game.

“They came up big for us today,” Frazier said in his post-game press conference. “Great to see Asher step up, great to see Jamarca step up. Chris Cook seems like he’s getting better every week. We all know there are big-time receivers every week in our league, and I haven’t seen him bat his eyes yet. He just continues to improve.”

With Winfield unavailable and fellow starter Cedric Griffin sidelined for the first series, Allen and Cook stepped into the starting lineup. And since Arizona had 3 WRs on the first offensive snap, Marcus Sherels also got the start. That means on the first offensive snap of the game, the Vikings 3 starting CBs had an average age of 23 years and average NFL playing experience of 2 seasons.

Even when Griffin returned to the lineup, the secondary was still youthful. But they played like veterans and were a huge reason the defense allowed just 10 points to Larry Fitzgerald and Co.

The Vikings may need a similar effort from that group this week when they travel to Chicago. Winfield didn’t practice all week and he’s listed as doubtful for the game.

“That was extremely encouraging, watching both of those guys compete the way they did,” Frazier said of Allen and Cook on Friday. “We feel like we should be in pretty good shape. With Antoine (out), you miss something from a tackling standpoint, leadership, and all the intangibles he brings. But both Asher and Chris, they’re showing they’re really coming along, which is great for our team.”

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Young Vikings Secondary Rises To Challenge

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 9, 2011 – 3:47 pm

We said it before Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals began: with star CB Antoine Winfield unavailable due to a neck injury, the young Vikings secondary had to step up.

And they did.

With Winfield out and Cedric Griffin benched for the first series, the Vikings ran out Asher Allen (23 years old, 3rd season) and Chris Cook (24-2)  as their starters at CB. On the game’s first snap, the Vikings had their nickel package on the field, with Marcus Sherels (23-1) being the 3rd CB. Do the math, and you’ve got a group of CBs with an average age of 23.3 years and an average experience level of 2 seasons.

But that didn’t stop the group from playing well. Arizona was forced into a 3-and-out on their first series, and then with Griffin back in the fold, the secondary continued to play well. Allen grabbed an INT in the 1st quarter, and after the first two quarters of play, Cardinals QB Kevin Kolb had completed just half of his 22 pass attempts for 104 yards and he had a passer rating of only 44.5.

Star WR Larry Fitzgerald was held in check, too, as he finished the game with 6 receptions for 44 yards and, most importantly, no TDs.

“They came up big for us today,” Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier said. “Great to see Asher step up, great to see Jamarca step up. Chris Cook seems like he’s getting better every week. We all know there are big-time receivers every week in our league, and I haven’t seen him bat his eyes yet. He just continues to improve.”

In total, Kolb was 21 of 42 for 232 yards with 0 TDs and 2 INTs; backup QB Richard Bartel was 2 of 6 for 22 yards with 0 TDs and 1 INT. Coming into the game, Kolb was averaging 8.1 yards per pass attempt. On Sunday against a youthful Vikings secondary, Kolb averaged just 4.1 yards per pass and he was unable to find the end zone for the second consecutive week.

The bottom line is the Vikings secondary is a group that has been much maligned recently. Some of that criticism was warranted, and I’m sure some of it wasn’t. But after Sunday’s performance, there’s nothing but positives to take away from this group. And it’s a group that will only get better and gain more confidence once Winfield can return to action.

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Peterson, Vikings Defense Run Over Cardinals In 34-10 Victory

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 9, 2011 – 3:18 pm

Leslie Frazier earned his first victory as Vikings Head Coach on Sunday at Mall of America Field, as his team ran over the Arizona Cardinals to log a 34-10 win. And the Vikings did it the old fashioned way, with a relentless rushing attack and a punishing defensive effort that yielded only 3.8 yards per play and produced 4 turnovers.

The best RB in the NFL looked the part on Sunday, as the Vikings used three Adrian Peterson rushing TDs in the 1st quarter, along with a TD scamper by QB Donovan McNabb and a suffocating performance by the Vikings defense, to build a 28-0 lead before the 1st quarter came to a close. Arizona got on the board with a 2nd-quarter FG and then tacked on a TD in the 3rd quarter, but a rock-solid defensive effort, a commitment to the running game and two FGs by Ryan Longwell in the 2nd half helped the Vikings salt away their first victory of the season.

With a sold-out Mall of America Field crowd behind them, the Vikings defense played lights out for most of the game. But they were particularly sensational in the early going, forcing the following outcomes on Arizona’s first 6 drives: punt, punt, INT, fumble, punt, punt. There was a trio of three-and-out drives, and the Vikings converted both turnovers into TDs. Peterson scored from 4 yards out after the second Arizona punt and then dashed in from 24 yards out just one play after the INT. McNabb scampered in from 4 yards out after the fumble and then Peterson tallied his third rushing score of the day late in the 1st quarter after yet another Arizona punt.

All told in the 1st quarter, the Vikings scored 28 points, outgained Arizona 108-53, forced two turnovers and had an average drive start at the Arizona 40. Meanwhile, the Cardinals average drive start was their own 18, they converted zero of four 3rd-down attempts and they had nearly as many sacks and turnovers (3) as pass completions (4).

With CB Antoine Winfield sidelined because of a neck injury, it was imperative that the young Vikings secondary step up. And they did. Asher Allen grabbed the 1st quarter-INT, while S Jamarca Sanford collected two of his own to close out the game. The rest of the Vikings secondary played well also, as star WR Larry Fitzgerald was held in check with just 4 receptions for 66 yards. QB Kevin Kolb completed just 21 of 42 attempts for 232 yards with 0 TDs and 2 INTs; backup QB Richard Bartel threw the 3rd INT.

Aiding the young secondary in their effort was a tremendous pass rush, paced once again by perennial Pro Bowler Jared Allen, who had a pair of sacks. Fellow starting DE Brian Robison also had 2.0 sacks on the day, and now the duo has combined for 13.0 sacks this season – Allen has 8.5 and Robison has 4.5.

The Vikings special teams group deserves a nod, too, as they generated an average starting field position for the offense of the MN 42, while creating an average starting field position for Arizona of their own 24. Marcus Sherels had 45 punt return yards on just 2 tries, while P Chris Kluwe allowed zero returns in 4 punts and had two of his punts downed inside the 20, one of which was downed at the Arizona 3. K Ryan Longwell was 4 of 4 on PATs, 2 of 3 on FG tries (including a 53-yarder in the 4th quarter) and had two touchbacks.

The win improves the Vikings to 1-4 on the season and it gets them moving in the right direction as they embark on a road trip to Chicago next weekend and then return home for a date with the Green Bay Packers.

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With Winfield Down, Asher Allen & Chris Cook Must Step Up

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 9, 2011 – 9:37 am

One of the Vikings best defensive players – CB Antoine Winfield – will not play today against the Arizona Cardinals because of a neck injury suffered in last week’s game against Kansas City. As the Vikings get ready to kick it off against a Cardinals team that features arguably the NFL’s best WR in Larry Fitzgerald, a pair of young CBs must step up in Winfield’s absence.

Those young CBs are Asher Allen and Chris Cook. Expect Cook to play almost exclusively on the outside, while Allen will likely play a lot of the nickel CB snaps over the slot receiver that Winfield usually handles. Also, this could mean added playing time for Marcus Sherels.

Earlier this week, Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier was asked about the possibility of Winfield not playing and what that would mean for Allen.

“He’s had a good two days of practice here,” Frazier said on Thursday. “He’s practicing as if he’s going to have to play, which is the right attitude to take because it may very well turn out to be that way.”

As for replacing Winfield, Frazier knows you can’t really replace a player of his ability with just a few days’ notice. With that said, Frazier does expect the guys who are on the field to step up and held the defense contribute to a victory.

“Antoine is a hard guy to replace,” Frazier acknowledged. “He does so many things for us. Even the play that he got injured on, he’s making a tackle that a lot of guys in the secondary might not be able to make in our league. The first play of the game they (Kansas City) ran to his side and I was surprised they did. And he tackled the back in the backfield, blows up a tackle for a loss or a zero gain.

“So it’s hard to replace that at the corner position, but you’ll have someone in there who will do a good job, but it’s not Antoine Winfield.”

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A Look At How Injuries Impact Sunday’s Vikings-Chiefs Contest

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 29, 2011 – 7:46 am

The Vikings and Chiefs are both off to disappointing 0-3 starts, and they’ve gotten to this point in different ways. The Vikings have built double-digit leads in each of their games, only to lose nail-biters in the 4th quarter and overtime. The Chiefs have suffered through a pair of blowouts and one nail-biter of their own, but adding salt to the wounds is the number of players they’ve had go down to injury.

Given the Chiefs misfortune with injuries so far this season and with 7 players listed on the Vikings first injury report of the week, it makes sense for us to take a quick look at how injuries could impact Sunday’s game between these two clubs.

For the Vikings
It’s natural to be concerned when you see both LB E.J. Henderson and RB Adrian Peterson on the week’s initial injury report and listed as “did not participate.” Henderson is dealing with a sore knee and Peterson is listed with a calf injury. But indications are that their injuries won’t keep them off the field on Sunday, with Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier saying Peterson will be fine and Henderson could return to practice as early as today.

A pair of CBs – Asher Allen (toe) and Chris Cook (groin) – were on the injury report again this week, but both played through their injuries last week and both were full participants on Wednesday. Kevin Williams (foot) is also dealing with an ailment but played through the game on Sunday and was a full participant in practice on Wednesday.

S Tyrell Johnson (hip) and TE Jim Kleinsasser (elbow) were also on the injury report and listed as limited participants. No word on the severity of those injuries, but if they’re limited or full participants today, expect them to be available for Sunday’s game.

For the Chiefs
There isn’t quite as much optimism for the Chiefs on the injury front. They lost their best offensive player – RB Jamaal Charles – to a season-ending knee injury in Week 2, and they lost one of their top two defensive players – S Eric Berry – to a season-ending injury in Week 1. On top of that, starting TE Tony Moeaki suffered a season-ending knee injury before the season started and WR Jonathan Baldwin, a 1st-round pick last April, has been sidelined with a thumb injury since the preseason. So before this week’s first injury report was issued, the Chiefs were already hurting.

With Berry already out, the Chiefs secondary is now dealing with two more injured starters. Talented CB Brandon Flowers was a limited participant on Wednesday with an ankle injury, but he told reporters afterward that the ankle felt better than he anticipated and that he’ll push it even harder in today’s practice. The other injured starter is S Jon McGraw, who injured his shin last week against San Diego. McGraw was also a limited participant in practice on Wednesday.

Baldwin has been steadily progressing in recent weeks and his return could come as soon as this week. He traveled with the team to both Detroit in Week 2 and San Diego in Week 3. He hasn’t been a full participant in practice yet, but if he is this week that might indicate his return will be Sunday against the Vikings.

Ultimately, with both teams trying to avoid an 0-4 start, expect players to grind out practices this week and push hard to be available on Sunday. At this point it would be a surprise if either Flowers or McGraw didn’t play for the Chiefs, and as discussed above it sounds like Henderson and Peterson will be good to go for the Vikings.

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