When Jared Allen arrived in Minnesota in 2008, he was an electric pass rusher coming over in a big pre-draft trade from the Kansas City Chiefs with a league-leading 15.5 sacks. Kevin Williams was the star of the Vikings' defensive line; already a three-time, first-team All-Pro and one part of the "Williams Wall" with Pat Williams.

Kevin Williams was quick to let Allen know his place and how things worked along the Minnesota defensive line.

"Kevin was like, 'You might not have those numbers because I'm coming to steal half your sacks,'" Allen recalled last week. "It was instant competition. But you could tell the way he worked just pushed you, pushed me, to be better; that competition amongst the D-line.

"He's like 'We'll teach you how to play the run over here.' I'm like, 'I don't know where that came from, but I appreciate it.' Kevin, since Day 1 we hit it off and we just kind of formed that relationship and it's been there ever since."

Since the unique welcome, Allen and Williams have been united as the leaders of the Vikings' defense. For 90 games, Allen and Williams have played right next to each other, continuing on the lineage of standout Minnesota defensive linemen.

"They kind of fed off each other," coach Leslie Frazier said. "When Jared came, he was a star player. Kevin was already a star here and they kind of put their egos behind them and just focused on trying to help our team. They're rare in that way, not letting their egos or their status get in the way of trying to help each other be the best they can be."

Together they've combined for five first-team All-Pro honors as teammates and nine total in their careers. And now, the 33-year-old Williams and 31-year-old Allen might be playing their final games together.

Allen and Williams are in the final year of their contracts with the Vikings and a return by one or both is unlikely.

"You're going to make me get sentimental up here," the usually quiet and stoic Williams said last week when asked about Allen. "It's been a tremendous honor to have him come in and join forces with me and Pat at the time and now it's me and him and Brian Robison and Letroy (Guion) and Fred (Evans). We're a close group of guys.