|ESPN.com: NFC North||[Print without images]|
Could Minnesota possibly lose three of their starting defensive linemen to suspension?
The Vikings were pondering that question Sunday evening following a 19-13 loss at Tampa Bay. Not only are defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams scheduled to appeal a four-game suspension this week, but right end Jared Allen confirmed he will meet with NFL officials to discuss several quarterback hits this season.
Allen told FOX Sports, and confirmed after Sunday's game, that league officials want to talk to him. A week after being fined for two low hits on Houston quarterback Matt Schaub, Allen was penalized last week for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers. Although Allen did not say as much, it's possible the league is considering a suspension as part of its ongoing crusade to protect quarterbacks. Meeting with Allen would give him a chance to explain his mindset before any punishment is made official.
Losing Pat Williams and Kevin Williams would be a devastating enough blow for a team that remains tied for first place in the NFC North. But if Allen is suspended, the Vikings would be stripped of three Pro Bowl players they have built their defense around.
There is no telling what the NFL is up to with this meeting. Last month, commissioner Roger Goodell met with New England nose tackle Vince Wilfolk to discuss a hit on Denver quarterback Jay Cutler. Ultimately, Wilfolk was fined $35,000 but not suspended.
Goodell already has fined Allen $50,000 for the two hits on Schaub. We'll soon know if Goodell will escalate Allen's punishment to the level of suspension.