EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen is facing the first surgery of his NFL career this offseason, but he’s in no hurry to go under the knife.
Allen, Minnesota’s nine-year veteran, played all year with a torn labrum in his left shoulder. Allen is going to have surgery on the shoulder soon, but he’s planning on waiting until after the Pro Bowl on Jan. 27.
“Yeah, I’ve played with it all year, I’m going to at least enjoy the benefits of it right,” Allen said Monday. “That’s like going to the ice cream shop and not getting any ice cream. I’ll at least enjoy the free trip to Hawaii.”
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Allen, a season off of challenging the NFL’s single-season sack record in 2011, led Minnesota with 12 sacks this season and had 45 tackles, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. Allen has stated he spent more time in the trainer’s room this year than any season of his career, but he credited head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman, the training staff and strength and conditioning coach Tom Kanavy for keeping him on the field.
Allen said it was difficult playing through the injury and took away from some of his pass-rushing repertoire.
“It was tough because part of my game is an inside-counter move and I just didn’t have the complete strength,” Allen said. “There’s a couple of times that I was sitting there watching the quarterback right there and I’m just trying to get a couple of more inches of separation, which is the difference of a tackle where you get a hand on him versus wrapping him up.”
Allen said he still has to discuss with the team’s staff when the surgery will take place and he wasn’t sure of the recovery timeframe. Allen has one year remaining on his current contract with the Vikings, which will pay him $14.28 million next season. He said he’ll again focus in on Michael Strahan’s single-season sack record of 22.5 sacks next year, this time with a healthy shoulder.
“It was a good year,” Allen said assessing his season. “Overall, we had a winning season. You kind of learn some things about yourself every year. I had to deal with injuries this year which was tough, with my groins and then the shoulder, just being able to push through that gives me that confidence that as I get older I’ll still be able to push through and be a productive player at the level that I want to be at.”
Allen has called running back Adrian Peterson’s amazing recovery from knee surgery an inspiration. Maybe Peterson’s recovery can be just the type of inspiration for Allen to come back strong from his first surgery.
“Maybe I can get 2,000 sacks,” Allen joked about Peterson’s 2,000-yard rushing season.