Vikings veterans still expect to win in rebuilding

Associated Press  |  Last updated August 02, 2012

NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 24: Jared Allen #69 of the Minnesota Vikings lines up in a three point stance on defense against the New Orleans Saints during the NFC Championship Game at the Louisiana Superdome on January 24, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
(Eds: With AP Photos.) Jared Allen is happy to help out the younger Minnesota Vikings, answering questions, giving advice or critiquing their performance. But be clear about this, young fellas: You're getting paid to play, so the expectations are just as high as they are for the veterans. ''This isn't high school or college,'' said Allen, who is beginning his ninth season in the NFL and fifth with the Vikings. ''I can show them how to be a pro or show them the standards we expect, but at the end of the day, you have to do your job. If you can't, we'll find out pretty quick out here.'' The Vikings are a case study of how fast the NFL landscape can change. In less than two years, they went from an experienced team with deep playoff hopes to a young squad that looked lost during most of 2011. ''I still feel like I'm playing at a high level, but every year is a concern of if I'm going to win a championship,'' Allen said. ''That's where I just put my trust in the front office that they're going to bring the players in, and our goals match up. I'm not in this to rebuild. I'm in this every year to compete for a championship, and they are too. And I truly believe that, and that's why I love being a Minnesota Viking.'' On a team given a good chance to win a Super Bowl, there is obvious built-in motivation. But when an older player's career window is closing faster than the team's plan for championship contention is developing, the void could potentially be difficult to fill with other driving forces. ''It might be tough in some situations, but not for me,'' cornerback Antoine Winfield said. ''I still want to come out here and work hard and compete. I want to do everything I can so we can improve ... quickly.'' Quickly is the operative word here. This will be Winfield's 14th NFL season, and at age 35, his career won't last much longer. Even if he bucks the injury bug that has bitten him in recent years - last year he hurt his neck and then broke his collarbone and played in only five games - pro football is a young man's game, particularly at the speed-based skill positions like his. Winfield has grown accustomed to mentoring young cornerbacks. Outside of Chris Carr, the free agent signee from the Baltimore Ravens, Winfield has been in the league for more than a decade longer than each of the team's other defensive backs. He's never played in a Super Bowl, let alone won one, and the Vikings (29th in the AP Pro32 rankings) are far from the conversation about this year's contenders. But he's not giving up on a return to regular winning by the Vikings. ''Things change pretty quickly out here,'' Winfield said. ''A team is driven by its leaders, and we have some really great leaders on this team.'' Chad Greenway was not too long ago the youngest linebacker on the team. Now he's the unquestioned leader of his position group, entering his seventh NFL season. ''I love it,'' he said. ''If anything, it makes me want to work harder. It kind of takes me back to my first and second year when I was fighting for a job.'' Defensive tackle Kevin Williams is the longest-tenured player with the Vikings, entering his 10th season. After watching several veterans either get released or left unsigned over the last year - a sharp contrast from the 2009 to 2010 transition in which every starter returned - Williams has had to manage his expectations a little. ''We got young in a hurry,'' Williams said. ''You could say we're rebuilding, but in my mindset we're still expecting to win games. I think with the young guys we brought in here, we definitely plan on playing those guys and having them helping us win. And definitely improve from what we did last year.'' That's sure the goal of owner Zygi Wilf, who made his first public comments of training camp Tuesday. ''I expect to be division champs. I want to be able to fight for the division, as we always do every year, and get better for years to come. That's always been our goal,'' Wilf said. NOTES: Coach Leslie Frazier said the MRI on TE John Carlson's right knee confirmed the initial diagnosis of a sprained MCL. Carlson watched practice Wednesday with a brace and a bandage on and will miss about two weeks. ... Defensive coordinator Alan Williams said rookie SS Harrison Smith will have to earn a starting spot, but Williams raved about the rookie's size, skill and speed. ''Right now he is better at everything than I really thought,'' Williams said. --- Online: http://bigstory.ap.org/NFL-Pro32 and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Cubs pushing hard to land Aroldis Chapman

Report: Lesnar, Jones tested positive for same substance

Todd Bowles: Geno Smith 'can be a good starter' for Jets

Former 49ers OL: Gabbert will likely start over Kaepernick

Report: Le'Veon Bell recently completed DUI probation

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

WATCH: Dontrelle Willis' great reaction to Giancarlo Stanton home run

Reports: Sale cut up throwback uniforms with knife in protest

WNBA withdraws fines for teams that protested gun violence

Ezekiel Elliott: ‘Evil NEVER prevails’

Orioles, Padres reportedly talking trades of Melvin Upton, Cashner

Report: Islanders looking at locations to build new arena

Olympic village in Rio deemed 'uninhabitable' for time being

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

10 NFL players set to become household names in 2016

Lou Holtz regrets making immigration 'joke' at RNC

Report: Royals didn't invite Johnny Cueto to White House visit

Solo not taking any chances with Zika virus while in Rio

Rays reportedly demanding Profar in pitching deal with Rangers

Facebook doesn’t know the difference between Liverpool and Arsenal

Report: Teams asked about Wade Davis, asking price very high

Aussie Rules Football player accidentally kicks, breaks own leg

Former Arkansas football assistant trolls Bobby Petrino on social media

Could Clayton Kershaw's injury hinder trade talks?

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

Effect of ban on Russia could span beyond the Olympic Games

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

QUIZ: Name every city to host the NBA All-Star Game

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

One Gotta Go: NBA players make tough choices on their favorite rappers

One Gotta Go: NBA Summer League is not about that Game of Thrones life

The top NHL free agents available as offseason winds down

WATCH: NBA jersey sponsors that need to happen

Expansion draft playing heavy hand in the current NHL offseason

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker