Allen wants another shot at NFL sacks record
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen used one sack to motivate his offseason training regimen.
The one he didn't get.
Allen's 22 sacks last season fell a half-sack shy of Michael Strahan's single-season record. Once just one sack away from the mark, Allen is now lamenting he's "23 away again." Missing the record served as the perfect motivation for Allen, who trained all offseason in Arizona instead of at the Vikings’ team facilities.
Back at Winter Park Tuesday for the start of the mandatory three-day minicamp, Allen said this offseason he's trying to go one step further in his training.
"When I was starting to work out again, it was like, 'What can I do to try to produce a little bit more?'" Allen said. "Once you realize it is possible, then it sinks into your mind this is an actual, capable goal. It's something I can hopefully reproduce again. Obviously, a lot of things went right. I'm just trying to keep that routine the same, trying to get all that extra work in with my trainers."
Coach Leslie Frazier was excited to have his big defensive end back in town.
"Yeah, when he came by my office yesterday afternoon, I gave him a big hug," Frazier said, acknowledging that Allen has missed only the voluntary portions of the offseason program. "Great to see him in the building. First time I've seen him in a while. Exciting to see him around his teammates and participating in what we've got going. He's a guy with a lot of energy. He's one of the leaders on the team and glad to have him back in the building."
Allen said he has is planning to go to Lake Tahoe in California to train in a high altitude after minicamp is over. He hopes to make another run at Strahan's record of 22.5 sacks, but Allen also believes another number is in sight.
"I think 25's possible," Allen said. "I think someone will eventually get it. I mean, you look at some of the athletes coming. You look at the DeMarcus Wares of the league and the matchups he creates as a 3-4 guy, on a running back or something like that. I think it's possible.
“Again no one's ever had two 20-sack seasons in their career in the history of the NFL. So, someone's got to do that first. I believe it's possible. I believe 25 is a number that will get hit one year. But when? I don't know."
Ware, Dallas' All-Pro outside linebacker, has come the closest to dual 20-sack seasons, finishing with 20 in 2008 and 19.5 last season behind Allen's league-leading total. Allen's second-best mark, 15.5 sacks in 2007, was in his final season with the Kansas City Chiefs. Since coming to Minnesota, Allen has 62 sacks in 64 games.
He said averaging two sacks per game is "reaching." But getting so close to the record last season is driving Allen this time around. He's replayed the missed sacks of last season in his mind. There was the sack against Green Bay that was recorded as a "team sack." There was the time he had Kansas City quarterback Matt Cassel in his grasp before being poked in the eye and letting go. Those plays are pushing him to not miss again.
"Before you get that close you're not sure if it’s attainable," Allen said. "You always think it is because you always think if someone did it, I can get there. But being right there, leaving some stuff on the field. They took the one away in Green Bay. They gave it a team sack. There were a couple in my arms that I didn't get or the ones where I was just that close.
“At the end of the year I was kind of bummed out. Now I'm 23 away, vs. one away. But when you start working out again, it's motivation. It's how can I push myself just a little bit further."
Allen prefers to work on his own with his trainers in Arizona. He was the only Vikings player who hadn't shown up to work out at Winter Park during the offseason. Last year, the lockout forced Allen and his teammates away from the Vikings' facilities. He followed through with the best season of his eight-year career and was named an All-Pro for the fourth time. He added four forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, 66 tackles and one interception and was second to Baltimore's Terrell Suggs in the voting for the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award.
Last year's success just confirmed to Allen that he is training the right way in Arizona. So he continued the routine this offseason.
"It's kind of one of those things, 'If it's not broke, don't fix it,'" Allen said. "Coach understood why, and my mindset last year was so good. I was in a great mental state. Even though we weren't winning, things were just real positive. And, coming off that 2010 season where it was just a ball of negativity around here.
"That's what I told coach, too, 'You know, I've got my trainers. Everything is focused in the right direction down here.'
"So that's where I'm trying to stay. I know there's a lot of young guys and they want veteran leadership stuff, but we've got plenty of time for that in training camp. But the best way I can lead is by being the best player I can be on the field. I feel like, for me, that's having a full offseason with my trainers."
Hall on Twitter.