No hairy distractions for Allen
New Vikings defensive end shows up at camp with full beard
By Guy N. Limbeck
MANKATO — The Vikings paid a lot to acquire defensive end Jared Allen in the offseason from the Kansas City Chiefs.
To start with they traded a first-round draft choices and a pair of third-round picks to acquire him in a trade. Then they forked over a $71 million contract. Maybe they should have kicked in a razor, too.
Allen showed up at Vikings training camp on Friday looking like a mountain man. He was sporting a thick black beard in the summer heat.
"I was on a cruise and I just didn’t shave," Allen said. "So I decided to shave for not about a month. Now I’ve decided not to shave until at least after camp."
Once the regular season begins, he plans to keep some facial hair, however.
"We’ll see what happens," he said. "It will evolve. I think I’ll go with the mustache though."
On the field, Allen plans to be all business while getting his timing back. He will work hard on hand and foot placement in drills as well and with stances and snap starts.
"My first few days are pure fundamentals," he said.
Last year Allen led the NFL with 151⁄5 sacks.
Darren Sharper might be a 12-year NFL veteran, but he was showing the enthusiasm of a rookie at the start of camp.
In a passing drill Sharper was lined up against rookie receiver Nate Jones one-on-one. Jones ran a deep pattern. With fans cheering him on, Sharper raced back and tipped the ball away at the last instant. He jumped up and immediately pumped his fist.
The deep ball
Third-year quarterback Tarvaris Jackson also drew cheers from the crowd for some nice deep throws. The best deep pass was one in which Jackson hit Bobby Wade in stride. The ball went just over cornerback Marcus McCauley’s outstretched hands and Wade caught the ball over his shoulder.
"I think that he’s 100 percent a better player this year," Wade said of Jackson. "I expect him to be just as great as he wants to be. Obviously we put some good people around him, so hopefully we can help out and take some of the pressure off him."
Edwards, Williams out
Defensive end Ray Edwards and defensive tackle Pat Williams did not practice on Friday.
Edwards, a third-year player, is projected as a starter on the left side and he made news in the offseason by saying he was going to set the single-season sack record in 2008.
But he is currently on the physically unable to perform list with a bad back. Coach Brad Childress said the injury is only a short-term ailment. And Edwards was briskly running sprints on the sidelines on the first day of camp.
While Edwards is out, Jayme Mitchell has been moved into the top spot in the depth chart at defensive end.
Williams, a starter at defensive tackle, sat out as a precaution. He had offseason surgery on his left elbow. Fred Evans was with the first team in place of Williams.
• The start of the first practice was delayed by about an hour because of heavy rains in Mankato.
• Rookie safety Tyrell Johnson, a second-round draft pick, got off to a slow start before even reaching the field. He forgot his helmet and had to retreat back to the locker room, on a bike, to retrieve the hard hat.
• This is the Vikings 43rd year training in Mankato. That’s the second-longest streak in the NFL behind the 50 seasons Green Bay has been at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wis.