RENTON – The images look as though Jared Allen was giving a preview of his Halloween costume a week early. With a black head band pulled tight around his head, blood trickling down his nose and cheek and a crazed look on his face, Allen could have been auditioning a John J. Rambo parody.
Instead, it was just another night in the life of an NFL pass rusher. Bloodied from a helmet-ripping, punch-throwing fight with Tampa Bay offensive tackle Donald Penn, Allen got revenge on the next play, blowing past his sparring partner and crushing Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman.
Of course, that personal victory didn’t mean much in the Vikings’ 36-17 loss on Oct. 25.
Still, when Allen steps on the field at CenturyLink Field, the Seahawks will need to be aware of where the All-Pro defensive end is at all times.
“He’s a war daddy,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said.. “He can do it all. He does it physically. He does it with quickness. He does it with finesse. He’s a rare football player.”
Even in his ninth season in the NFL, he’s not really slowing down as expected for an undersized rush end. Last year, he nearly broke the NFL sacks record with 22. This season, Allen has seven sacks, which is tied for fifth in the NFC.
Sure, he isn’t the pure speed-rushing spitfire he was back in 2004, fresh out of Idaho State University and a fourth-round draft pick of the Kansas City Chiefs. But it doesn’t mean he isn’t effective. He might be a little slower, but he’s a lot smarter player.
“I think I’m a different player from week to week or year to year, just trying to build and correct mistakes,” Allen said. “Mentally, you learn to rush smarter. When you are younger, you are guessing. But I’ve always been a leverage, technique guy. I’m never going to get away from the base of what I do. I believe (in using) hips, hands and feet and out-leveraging and out-working the guy in front of me.”
Allen won’t be outworked in practice, a trait that has earned the respect of coach Leslie Frazier.
“He’s a terrific player,” Frazier said. “He’s on the pace again to have another double-digit sack year. So close a year ago to breaking an NFL record with sacks, and he’s just a joy to be around in practice because he works hard every single day.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean that Allen is all work. He’s famous for his sense of humor and playfulness.
He showed up on Wednesday dressed in a costume that his coach struggled to describe.
“The guy who showed up today saying he was Jared Allen was somebody I’d never seen before,” Frazier said. “It was some hippie outfit. He had blond hair and glasses. Just a wild outfit.”
Hippie outfit? Allen had a different label.
“Emo,” he said. “It was very like modern-day hipster, skinny-jeans guy.”
Skinny jeans on a 6-foot-4, 270-pound man couldn’t be exactly comfortable.
“Big people should not wear skinny jeans. I guess Wranglers are a form of skinny jeans but they are ‘U’ shaped, not ‘V’ shaped — we’ve all seen the commercials,” he said referencing the television ads by former teammate Brett Favre.
Frazier understands Allen’s reasoning at times.
“With today being Halloween, it was just an example of his personality,” Frazier said. “He’s not a guy who’s going to be standing in the corner quiet, that’s not Jared. I love his personality, but there are times where I do have to say, ‘Hey Jared ’ ”
But Allen’s intentions are well-meaning. In the grind of an NFL season, he thinks little things like dressing up for Halloween can break up the monotony.
“You can’t overemphasize it. At the end of the day it’s still football,” Allen said. “The field hasn’t changed. You’re still playing a game which we used to play for free as kids. So you’ve got to have fun. You can’t let it become a grueling, grinding thing to where you’re constantly coming to work and you’re dreading it. Otherwise, you’re going to get nothing accomplished.”
So far this season, the Vikings have accomplished more than many expected, thanks to the play of second-year quarterback Christian Ponder, running back Adrian Peterson’s return to form after knee surgery, the explosive play of wide receiver/kick returner Percy Harvin and the older, wiser, costume-wearing defensive end who still finds ways to get to the quarterback.
“For me, I’m just a big kid at heart and I like to have fun in everything I do,” he said.Ryan Divish: 253-597-8483 email@example.com blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks