DE Jared Allen already having positive impact for Bears
BY ADAM L. JAHNS Staff Reporter July 25, 2014 10:32PM
- Bears first-round pick Kyle Fuller gets 2 picks
- New Bears safety Adrian Wilson could be the heel of the offseason
- Jordan Lynch a fan-and-GM favorite
- Jay Cutler helped Jimmy Clausen learn the playbook
- Bears will rely on veterans to turn around defense
- Live blog: Bears training camp
- Ravens RB Ray Rice receives 2-game suspension from NFL
Updated: August 27, 2014 6:17AM
BOURBONNAIS — Jared Allen isn’t trying to be a leader. The Bears already have linebacker Lance Briggs and cornerback Charles Tillman for that.
So Allen prefers to sell himself as a new guy just trying to contribute, not as the Pro Bowl defensive end with the extroverted personality.
Still, Allen’s impact, only one day into training camp, is palpable. Teammates and coaches already are lauding his voice and locker-room presence.
‘‘Jared’s very consistent,” coach Marc Trestman said Friday after the first practice of training camp. “He’s a very likable guy in the locker room. He’s a fun guy to have a conversation with. When he’s out here, you don’t hear him. You see him. And he’s working.”
Have players responded to that?
“The guys would have to answer that question,” Trestman said.
OK, so what say you, Stephen Paea?
“[Allen is] getting after the young guys big-time — more than we had with [Julius] Peppers last year,” said Paea, the fourth-year defensive tackle. “We feel like we have another coach in the huddle, which is always good to have.”
It should be stressed that no Bear has criticized Peppers, who went to three Pro Bowls in his four seasons with the team before being cut after an erratic 2013. Peppers still is revered in his own way.
But the comparisons between Allen and Peppers will persist all year. It happens when one Pro Bowl player replaces another, especially within the same division. And the differences in personality are undeniable. Allen’s motor never has been questioned.
Trestman thought Allen and the overhauled defensive line, featuring end Lamarr Houston and tackle Jeremiah Ratliff, set the tone in practice.
“You watch the way they move and run to the ball, they made an effort to show the guys around them how to do it,” Trestman said. “That was clear through [Allen’s] performance — he not only started fast [but] finished strong.”
Ultimately, Allen should be judged by production, and history clearly shows that sacks should increase.
Allen had 56½ sacks to Peppers’ 37½ over the last four seasons.
Ends opposite Allen, such as Brian Robison and Ray Edwards with the Vikings, also have benefitted. The Vikings totaled 166 sacks to the Bears’ 139 the last four seasons.
“He’s one of the most dominant pass rushers in the league,” Houston said. “To play opposite of him, that’s an honor, first of all. I’m grateful to get the opportunity to play with someone of his caliber, but it’s just going to help our defense get better and improve to where we want to be.”
In some ways, the Bears’ defense is looking to re-establish its identity. It became a downtrodden, injury-plagued group in 2013 without its most recognizable face, Brian Urlacher.
Allen can help with that rebirth.
“The identity is going to be how fast we fly around, how hard we hit people, creating turnovers,” Allen said. “It’s not going to be a person. It’s going to be a collective whole. It’s going to be the energy of each individual and what they bring to the table.
“You’re a leader by what you do. I’ve had success in this league, so it’s nothing I want to say to a guy. I’m going to encourage a guy; I’m going to help young guys out if they want it. But the way I’m going to lead is I’m going to show up to work and I’m going to put my best on the field, and I’m going to expect the guy next to me to be his best.”