We're Black and Blue All Over:
Where has Jared Allen been this year? Bob Sansevere of the St. Paul Pioneer Press pursues that question Friday after noting Allen, the NFL's sack leader since the start of the 2004 season, has one sack in the Minnesota Vikings' first four games.
Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier suggested teams "pay a great deal of attention to him" and added: "He's going to have a bust-out game, and hopefully it will be this weekend. He's not a disappointment by any means." Allen, meanwhile, told Sansevere that he's been close on a half-dozen.
Allen: "You could count four, five, six, maybe. Look at the Detroit game. I would have had two in the Miami game. That half-step, that half-second, is huge. Huge! There's always what ifs, but eventually it comes back. They seem to come in spurts."
It's true that Allen's 29 sacks in two previous seasons with the Vikings have often come in spurts. And it's true that offenses generally can gameplan to take one player out of any game, and perhaps that's why the rest of the Vikings defense has played well all season.
But here's the bottom line: An All-Pro defensive end has to make big plays at some point, regardless of how offenses are approaching him. I don't think anyone is going to be satisfied if Allen gets to the end of the season with a couple sacks and attributes it to being "close" and constant double-teams. Would you?
Continuing around the NFC North:
Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com has a salary breakdown of the Vikings, who have one of the top 5 player payrolls in the NFL.
The Vikings are likely to start cornerback Asher Allen in place of the injured Cedric Griffin and Chris Cook this week, writes Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune. Lito Sheppard or newcomer Frank Walker will be in the nickel.
The Green Bay Packers had two injury setbacks Thursday, reports Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. Linebacker Brandon Chillar (shoulder) and defensive end Mike Neal (shoulder) were held out of practice.
Barring any setbacks, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (concussion) has been cleared to play Sunday against the Miami Dolphins, reports Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press examines the multiple injuries the Detroit Lions have suffered at middle linebacker, forcing them to consider the possibility of starting Ashlee Palmer there Sunday against the New York Giants.
The Lions are gearing up for the Giants' heavy pass rush, writes Chris McCosky of the Detroit News.
Can the Chicago Bears run the ball against the Seattle Seahawks this weekend? Neil Hayes of the Chicago Sun-Times takes a look.
Michael C. Wright of ESPNChicago.com takes a closer look at Edwin Williams, the Bears' new right guard.
Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune looks at the progress of benched Bears defensive tackle Tommie Harris.