Veteran Carolina Panthers defensive end Jared Allen has two weeks to prove to coach Ron Rivera he can play after missing the NFC Championship Game with a broken foot.
Allen injured his foot in the NFC divisional round victory over the Seattle Seahawks, and Rivera didn’t feel comfortable playing Allen on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.
With two weeks to get healthy before facing Denver, Allen could play in his first Super Bowl after 12 years in the league.
“I’m excited for the fact that he’s got two weeks to get ready, and prove to me that he’s ready to roll, which I believe he will knowing him,” Rivera said. “That’s just who he is.”
On Monday, Rivera admitted Allen may have been able to play, but there were other factors in the decision. Allen could have been active, but aggravating the injury further would have put him out of the game and left Carolina with just three defensive ends.
So Rivera decided to play Ryan Delaire, who recorded one tackle in limited action.
Allen didn’t hide his displeasure with Rivera’s decision on Friday, but he said he respected the coach’s decision and understood where he was coming from.
Rivera compared the decision to the one he made at the start of the 2014 season when he sat Cam Newton for the season-opener against Tampa Bay when the quarterback cracked his ribs two weeks earlier.
“It was a difficult decision but I did what I thought was right for us,” Rivera said. “And hopefully as we started preparing for Denver these next two weeks he can show me that he’s ready to roll.”
Rivera said center Ryan Kalil is fine after leaving the game briefly with a knee injury. Rivera said running back Fozzy Whittaker (foot) is fine, and a source told the Observer fullback Mike Tolbert (knee) is good.
Safety Roman Harper (eye) was scheduled to see a doctor on Monday. He had trouble seeing out of his right eye following a friendly-fire hit from Luke Kuechly that sent him out of the game.