By Ashley Dunkak
ALLEN PARK (CBS DETROIT) – Five-time Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen can imagine how second-year left tackle Riley Reiff is approaching this matchup, during which Reiff will try to stop the sack-happy Allen and his Minnesota Vikings from disrupting the Detroit Lions offense.
Allen figures that Reiff sees this as the same kind of opportunity that Allen saw when he was a rookie getting ready to face Orlando Pace, a tackle for the St. Louis Rams who had been selected to five Pro Bowls by the time Allen entered the league.
Familiar with the mentality a young player brings into a competition with a big-name guy such as him, Allen will be on his toes Saturday.
“You’ve got to prepare and bring your A-game,” Allen said. “Young guys are trying to make a name in this league too. How else do you make a name besides beating established players? When I was young and I got to go against Orlando Pace, I was licking my chops. I was excited.
“I expect [Reiff] to come out full of piss and vinegar and grit and ready to rock and roll,” Allen added. “In this league you never want to take anybody for granted or approach anything thinking that because he’s young you’re going to have an easy day because you will be humbled.”
Over his nine-year career, Allen has recorded 113 sacks, snagged five interceptions, forced 28 fumbles, recovered 17 fumbles and made 410 tackles. In addition to being talented, Allen is tough. He has played in 141 games of 143 possible over the last nine regular seasons.
Reiff will not say much about Allen, merely that he is excited about the matchup, looking forward to it.
Detroit running back Reggie Bush describes Minnesota’s defense as fast in general, but like most do when talking about the Vikings, he singles out Allen.
“Obviously Jared Allen is kind of the anchor of that defense and kind of a sack specialist, so to speak, so we have to do a good job at protecting Matt and not allow Allen to have a field day out there,” Bush said.
Lions head coach Jim Schwartz gives Allen lots of credit, but he also seems to have plenty of confidence in Reiff, who got time as a starter and a reserve last season.
“That would be a lot for us to get him blocked,” Schwartz said. “He’s a great player. He makes a lot of plays, but this isn’t Riley Reiff’s first start in the NFL. He started against a very good Houston team with some very good outside pass rushers last year and stepped in and did a nice job on a very short week. He played a lot of football for us last year.”
Young or not, though, Reiff’s performance will be critical to Detroit’s attempt to start the season with a win.
“That’s a very important matchup in this game,” Schwartz said. ” Jared Allen’s a guy that makes a bunch of sacks, turns the ball over a lot, can force you into holding penalties and stuff, and Riley or whoever’s lined up against Jared Allen’s going to have to play their very best.”