EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Jared Allen’s reputation as one of the league’s best pass rushers has earned him extra attention from opposing offenses. Now, Allen and the Chicago Bears are both saying his reputation in a different manner will save him from any extra attention on Sunday.
Allen, who knocked out Chicago Bears offensive linemen Lance Louis with a vicious block on an interception return when the two teams met just two weeks ago, doesn’t expect to encounter any payback when the Minnesota Vikings host Chicago this weekend. Meanwhile, the Bears are saying the same thing in advance of the game, trusting that Allen didn’t intend to injure Louis, who is out for the season with a knee injury because of the hit.
“I don’t think that Jared is that type of player,” Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler said Wednesday in a conference call with Minnesota reporters. “I don’t think he was out intentionally to hurt anybody. I’ve played against him when we were in Denver and he was with the Chiefs, and now in Minnesota. You don’t want those things to happen. We wish that he would have hit him a little bit lower, but it didn’t happen. We can’t worry about it. We have enough on our plate to worry about as is to worry about those types of things.”
Allen was fined $21,000 for the hit, which didn’t receive a flag in the game. Allen had left his feet and drove his shoulder into the head and shoulder area of an unsuspecting Louis after Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield had intercepted Cutler.
Allen has said repeatedly he didn’t mean to injure Louis and has expressed his sympathy to Louis. But Allen doesn’t expect any retribution from Chicago on Sunday, saying the Bears could have targeted him in the last game.
Allen said he takes pride in hearing opponents such as Cutler say they know he’s not a dirty player.
“Again, my intent was never to hurt anybody,” Allen said. “All I do is try to play good, hard football and that’s what I try to put on the field every Sunday. So, yeah, to hear guys like Jay say that, it just goes to speak that the years I’ve been playing this game, I mean, I try to play it the right way. And if my peers recognize that, that’s the best respect I can get.”
Allen is dealing with lower back spasms as well as a torn labrum in his shoulder. He sat out Thursday’s practice, but coach Leslie Frazier said he expects Allen to practice Friday and play Sunday.
For Allen, it was another week in the training room during a season in which he’s spent more time there than in any other year. Allen, who has dealt with a variety of injuries this season — including groin, neck, back and shoulder problems — has missed onlyh three games in his nine-year career.
“You always deal with something,” Allen said. “I’ve just been blessed not to be in the training room throughout my career. I think everybody will have one to two years in their career, where some guys, they spend their whole careers in the training room. I’ve been blessed not to have that. So, God willing, I’ve been able to play through everything and go out there and try to help my team win football games.” Cook returns to practice: Cornerback Chris Cook, who has been out since breaking a bone in his wrist Oct. 25, returned to practice Thursday for the first time since the injury.
Cook, the team’s top cover cornerback who was putting together another strong season, was put on injured reserve but was designated as the team’s one player who could return this season. He has to be held out at least six games and will be eligible to return for the second-last game of the season at Houston. Frazier said Cook is on track to play in that game.
“Yes, that’s the goal,” Frazier said. “It was good to see him out here today moving around. So we have to see how progresses, but that’s the goal.”
Cook vowed a few weeks ago that he would return, and returning to practice Wednesday with a brace on the wrist was the first step.
Frazier has option to switch QBs: Frazier has received plenty of questions about sticking with starting quarterback Christian Ponder and not replacing him with Joe Webb during Sunday’s disappointing performance.
With Rick Spielman having full control over the roster now that he’s the general manager, there had been some question whether Frazier had the right to pull Ponder for performance reasons.
“At the end of the day, when we’re in the heat of the moment, it comes back to me making that decision,” Frazier said Wednesday. “That’s something that, as an organization, you’re always talking about every player on your roster. Rick and I do it every week. We talk about our players, where they are, what they’re doing, how they’re performing. But when we’re at out there in the ballgame, I can’t call up Zygi or Mark or Rick and say, ‘Hey, what do you think? Should this guy stay in or out?’ Coach Frazier has to make that decision, so that’s on me.”
Frazier said he has the authority to make the change and said making in-game decisions was part of the discussion when he was hired to be the coach.
“That was one of the good things about when they hired me to be the head coach,” Frazier said. “They allowed me to make changes, similar to what I had to do a year ago in Detroit. I can make those changes throughout the course of the game without having to get that red phone and put a call in to New York or wherever.”