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Allen happy to go from last to first

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The Sports Xchange

CHARLOTTE — As defensive end Jared Allen turned from his locker Wednesday to meet with local media for the first time, he made sure nothing was hanging from his nose.

“That would be a terrible first impression, wouldn’t it?” he asked with a laugh.

It wouldn’t be anything a few sacks couldn’t make people forget.

When the Carolina Panthers traded Chicago a 2016 sixth-round pick for Allen on Monday, they picked up one of the NFL’s well-known extroverts. He’s played some pretty good football over the years, as well.

No one playing right now has as many sacks as Allen, whose 134 puts him at No. 9 all-time. But through three games in the Bears’ new 3-4 defense, he had none. No sacks and no wins.

What’s it like to go from an 0-3 team to one that’s 3-0?

“Praise God, honestly. That’s just the coolest thing ever,” Allen said. “To go from last to first, you gotta have a smile.”

Allen, who on Monday morning asked Bears’ management for a trade, made clear that request had nothing to do with Chicago’s struggles. It was more about a 12-year veteran struggling to fit into a new position.

“I’m not a standup 3-4 guy. I gave it the old college try and I put the work in,” Allen said. “They allowed me to go back to my more natural position.

“I understand the game with my hand in the ground. I feel like I can play faster, stronger, have better leverage, have better technique. This is where my heart and my home is in a 4-3 defense.”

Even though he’ll have had less than a week to study his new playbook, Allen is expected to start Sunday in Tampa Bay. Head coach Ron Rivera said he hopes his new defensive end can play between 34 and 40 snaps at right defensive end, where he played his entire career before the Bears moved to a 3-4 this season. That means Kony Ealy will shift to the left side for the first time in his pro career.

With Charles Johnson out until at least Thanksgiving, the Panthers are banking on Allen to help their fledgling pass rush. That’s no sure thing.

While he has eight seasons with double-digit sacks, he’s managed just one in his last seven games. That goes back to last season when he totaled a career-low 5.5 in his first year with the Bears.

But as they were scrambling Monday to find a solution for Johnson’s upcoming absence, the Panthers saw flashes of a havoc-inducing pass rusher when they watched Allen’s tape. They also got a thumbs up from cornerback Charles Tillman, who was in Chicago with Allen last season. And he wasn’t the only former teammate to chime in.

“One of my other former players texted me about him — Brian Urlacher — and just said, ‘Coach, you’re really going to like this guy,'” head coach Ron Rivera said. “When a guy like Brian reaches out to tell you something you most certainly do listen.”

–Panthers quarterback Cam Newton on Wednesday tried to avoid getting sucked back into a conversation he started, but he didn’t remain completely silent.

When asked about the accusation he made Sunday, that referee Ed Hochuli told him “you’re not old enough” to get a roughing-the-passer call, Newton said, “I‘m focused and moving forward to Tampa Bay.”

But when a reporter wondered if Newton stood by his comments now that Hochuli has denied them, Carolina’s quarterback replied: “Well, did you expect him to say anything else?”

Because Newton is 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds, there’s a perception some refs don’t treat him like others at his position.

“The problem is Cam doesn’t get treated like a quarterback because he doesn’t look like a quarterback,” tight end Greg Olsen said Monday.

But according to STATS, since Newton came into the league in 2011, opponents have been penalized for 30 personal fouls against him, the most of any quarterback. Of course, he’s also rushed and been hit more than any quarterback in that time, which makes what can often be a gray area even grayer.

“In my opinion, everybody has to be held to a standard,” Newton said. “(The refs) say before the game, ‘I’m here to protect you.’ So not digging into what happened, it just has to be brought up that no matter what kind of player I am, what type of talents I have, I have to trust that he has my health in his benefit. Whatever play is being held, I should never have to question my safety.

“I could get hit all day, and if the flag is not called, then shame on whoever. But I just wanted to bring that to everybody’s attention that yeah, I may run, there’s the statistics that Cam gets hit more than any other quarterback. Yeah, because I do a lot of running. But yet, if it’s a late hit, if I‘m sliding, I don’t want to get hit.”

Notes: Running back Jonathan Stewart (tibia) missed Wednesday’s practice after he “took a shot” to the leg in Sunday’s win over the Saints. Stewart is expected to play against the Bucs. … Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery (high ankle sprain) has been ruled out through the Week 5 bye.


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