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VIKINGS: Asher Allen continues to fill cornerback openings

ST. PAUL No Minnesota Vikings player embodies the football truism "next man up" more than cornerback Asher Allen. When Cedric Griffin blew out his knee last year, Allen was there. When Chris Cook suffered through injury setbacks as a rookie last ...

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ST. PAUL

No Minnesota Vikings player embodies the football truism "next man up" more than cornerback Asher Allen.

When Cedric Griffin blew out his knee last year, Allen was there.

When Chris Cook suffered through injury setbacks as a rookie last season and legal issues this year, Allen was there.

When Antoine Winfield's season abruptly ended because of a broken clavicle, Allen already was there, playing major snaps in place of Cook.

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With the cornerback position imploding around him, Allen has been a steady presence for the Vikings (2-8) entering Sunday's game at Atlanta -- about 15 miles from Allen's hometown of Tucker, Ga.

"My career here has kind of been funny," said Allen, who has 27 tackles and an interception this season. "It doesn't seem like you're going to play and then, bam, you're starting.

"I try to always be prepared, because you never know."

Allen was projected as a nickel corner when the Vikings drafted him in the third round in 2009. Since then, he has started 17 games and covered some of the game's best receivers out wide, sometimes on an island, and mostly out of necessity.

The Vikings had high hopes for the Cook-Winfield-Griffin trio that has played two games together since 2010. Winfield's season ended after five starts, Cook is away from the team while facing felony domestic assault charges and Griffin hasn't been the same since his two anterior cruciate ligament tears in as many years.

The Vikings' pass defense has struggled as a result, ranking 28th in the NFL at 259.4 yards allowed per game and 30th in scoring defense at 27.1 points allowed per game.

Through all the depletion, the 5-foot-9 Allen has been a scrappy defender who competes every week.

In Sunday's 27-21 loss to the Oakland Raiders, Allen got behind Denarius Moore on a 14-yard touchdown catch but helped the Vikings hold quarterback Carson Palmer to 164 passing yards.

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He has been assigned the likes of Carolina's Steve Smith and Green Bay's Greg Jennings one-on-one, and this week he might see time against Falcons Pro Bowler Roddy White.

In Week 8, Smith beat Allen on a 22-yard touchdown, but Allen held Smith to one catch for 5 yards on the final drive with the game on the line as the Vikings won 24-21.

"There shouldn't be any letdown," said Allen about replacing starters. "I take that very seriously. That's what I signed up for. You win some, you lose some at this position, but you have to put in the necessary work and play at a high level."

Allen, who battled turf toe in the offseason, knows he's a better player because the Vikings thrust him into competition early in his career.

He hopes to reward them with his experience. Allen is a free agent after the 2012 season.

"I'm trying to show consistency in my game, show that they can trust me out there," Allen said. "There's nothing like experience. I don't know the stats -- because of the points, it seems like a whole lot's going on -- but I feel like in recent games we've held some quarterbacks to less than what they normally get."

Up next: at Falcons, noon Sunday, KMSP Ch. 9, KFXN-FM 100.3

Distributed by MCT Information Services

Related Topics: FOOTBALL
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