Jared Allen is hoping to play in the Super Bowl for the first time in his 12-year NFL career. He just won’t be able to do anything more than hope.
The Panthers’ veteran defensive end on Friday was ruled out for Sunday’s NFC title game against the Cardinals because of a broken bone in his right foot which he suffered in last week’s game against the Seahawks. Allen played the end of that game with the injury, and told reporters he believes he could play in this upcoming one too.
“Not happy, plain and simple,” he said. “I’m ready to rock. Coach’s decision, got to live with it.”
Second-year defensive end Kony Ealy will start in his place.
“He’s very disappointed,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. “He took it very hard. But we have to look at this going forward at what’s best for us as far as the team’s concerned on Sunday night. And if there is the possibility [of playing in the Super Bowl], he gets another week of rest.”
Allen, 33, has just two sacks this season since being traded to the Panthers from the Bears on Sept. 29. His 136 career sacks are tied with Julius Peppers for the most among active NFL players, and he played well against the Seahawks with seven pressures on the quarterback.
Allen said he does not believe he can do further damage to the broken bone.
“Broke is broke,” he said. “[Rivera] made a decision. I’ve got to live with it and support my guys and be the best cheerleader I can be this week.”
Allen made it clear that his disappointment is not disrespectful.
“Coach has different things to worry about,” Allen said. “He has the whole team to worry about, right? So I understand his position 100 percent. I respect Coach Rivera. I love Coach Rivera. I don’t have to agree with the decision.”
But he does have to abide by it. And watch. And hope.
“I’ll be ready to go,” he said of his chances for a potential game on Feb. 7. “So hopefully we can get this one knocked out and be ready for the Super Bowl.”
Notes and quotes: The Panthers practiced outdoors in the winter storm that hit the Charlotte area on Friday and seemed none the worse for it, but what about their field? Several players were critical of it being slippery last week after it took on heavy rain prior to the game against the Seahawks. A snow- and ice-covered tarp protected the turf at Bank of America Stadium on Friday. “I think too much is being made of the field situation because the truth of the matter is, this is January,” Rivera said. “You’re going to play in these types of conditions. That’s football.”