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Vikings DE Allen Promising Big Year

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Jared Allen #69 of the Minnesota Vikings smiles on the bench after returning an interception for a touchdown while playing the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on January 2, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit won the game 20-13. (credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Jared Allen #69 of the Minnesota Vikings smiles on the bench after returning an interception for a touchdown while playing the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on January 2, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit won the game 20-13. (credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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MANKATO, Minn. (AP) — Jared Allen doesn’t have the mullet anymore. He’s married now, further removed from the wild lifestyle that used to get him in trouble. His wife is expecting a baby in November, another step toward settling down.

The offseason was spent mostly working out, focusing on his mixed martial arts routine, and relaxing at home rather than traveling the world as he’s done in the past. Oh, there was a family reunion to attend, and he made time for a bear-hunting trip, but this was a scaled-back summer for the Minnesota defensive end, for sure.

“My wife and I decided we wanted to spend time at home, so that’s all we did,” Allen said. “It was nice to have a full offseason with my trainers and really get after it.”

Allen, who said he dropped about five pounds, scoffed at the suggestion, however, that this is the tame version of the man whose 83 sacks since entering the NFL in 2004 are the most by any player during that span.

“I think every year I have to prove something. I don’t ever think I’ve arrived,” Allen said. “Last year being 6-10 was terrible. I’m always eager for something to motivate me.”

Not making the Pro Bowl last season is on his list. He had 11 sacks, but 10 of those came in the final nine games, once the Vikings were already buried in the standings. He didn’t make near the impact he did on the opponent’s game plan as he did in 2008 and 2009.

“I think I probably won’t be happy until I’m tired,” Allen said, “and we’ll see what happens then.”

Allen has consistently beaten new left tackle Charlie Johnson during drills in practice this month, whether that’s an implication of Johnson’s pass-blocking ability, a sign of an energized Allen, or some of both.

“He’s looking great, so far,” said defensive tackle Kevin Williams, another high-profile former All-Pro player looking to bounce back from a substandard season. “All we need is for that to carry over, and, man, he might break a sack record the way he’s been going in practice.”

The Vikings were on the verge of a new-era Purple People Eaters front four when Allen came in that blockbuster trade with Kansas City before the 2008 season to join Williams, defensive tackle Pat Williams and defensive end Ray Edwards. Their production fell way off last year, though, and Edwards signed with Atlanta. Pat Williams is unsigned and could retire.

Remi Ayodele was signed from New Orleans to replace Pat Williams, and Brian Robison has replaced Edwards as the starter on the opposite side of Allen.

And Allen is where this group starts and ends, no pun intended.

“I think we’ve all got that edge,” Robison said. “We were all disappointed personally how our seasons went — and collectively how our seasons went. Now we’ve all got that mentality that we need to do whatever it takes to become elite, and Jared’s no exception to that rule. He’s a guy that went out even harder with his workouts this offseason, and he’s going to hopefully showcase that this season.”

NOTES: Frazier said Joe Webb will be the second QB to play after Donovan McNabb in the exhibition game Saturday at Tennessee, followed by rookie Christian Ponder, but Webb and Ponder will be given equal opportunity this month to take the top backup spot. … TE Visanthe Shiancoe (hamstring) was held out of practice for another day, and Frazier said Shiancoe is “unlikely” to play against the Titans, with younger players to be evaluated instead. … Former Vikings star DT Alan Page watched Wednesday’s practice.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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