After Jared Allen missed the NFC Championship Game because of a fractured foot, the team announced Sunday that the Carolina Panthers defensive end will play in Super Bowl 50 against the Denver Broncos.
Allen was listed as probable after participating fully in practice on both Thursday and Friday, according to the Panthers' official website. Head coach Ron Rivera revealed Saturday that Allen and linebacker Thomas Davis were likely to start barring a late setback, per Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer:
I really was real pleased with what we got from both those guys. I'm excited about having them back on the football field. The only last hurdle obviously is the conversation I have to have with the doctors just to make sure and that they're feeling comfortable. But I'd be surprised if it was anything different.
Allen initially suffered the foot injury in Carolina's NFC Divisional Round playoff win over the Seattle Seahawks, and despite the nature of the ailment, he did everything he could to put himself in position to suit up against the Arizona Cardinals.
Even so, Rivera decided to hold him out in an effort to prevent him from exacerbating the injury, according to Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports 1:
Mike Garafolo @MikeGarafolo
Ron Rivera said it was a tough decision to rule Jared Allen out. Allen wanted to go. Team protecting him from himself. Hoping for SB.1/22/2016, 4:55:47 PM
While Rivera played it safe, the 33-year-old pass-rusher insisted he could have played in the NFC Championship Game without any issues, per ESPN's Ed Werder:
Ed Werder @Edwerderespn
Asked Jared Allen how much he's compromised by factured foot. "None." Asked if risk of re-injury reason he won't play? "Broke is broke."1/22/2016, 5:40:41 PM
The Panthers ultimately didn't need Allen to beat the Cards 49-15 in blowout fashion, which afforded him an extra week of rest.
According to Max Henson of the Panthers' official website, the five-time Pro Bowler reiterated his stance during the week following Carolina's NFC title-winning performance:
I'm preparing as usual. My foot feels great. I'm going to keep working and getting ready for this game. No limitations.
I would have loved to play (in the NFC Championship). Did you see how much fun those guys were having on the field? As a competitor I want to be on the field all the time, but I respect Coach Rivera's decision. I just want to be a part of this with these guys. This is a special group. Everybody wants to contribute.
With Allen back in the fold, Carolina will have its full complement of pass-rushers, including Charles Johnson and Kony Ealy.
While Allen used to routinely register double-digit sacks per season, he hasn't done so since 2013. He finished the 2015 regular season with just two sacks between the Panthers and the Chicago Bears, which was the lowest total of his career.
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Despite the lack of production, Allen brings a wealth of experience and a reputation to the table, which force opponents to account for him.
Putting pressure on Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning may be the biggest key to victory for the Panthers, and when the team announced that Allen was good to go, the likelihood of that happening almost certainly increased.
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