All week, the Panthers had been hopeful that linebacker Thomas Davis and defensive end Jared Allen would be healthy enough to play in the Super Bowl.
On Friday, Coach Ron Rivera provided confirmation: Davis and Allen won’t just suit up, the key veterans will assume their usual spots in Carolina’s starting lineup.
“I really was real pleased with what we got from both those guys,” Rivera told reporters, according The Charlotte Observer. “I'm excited about having them back on the football field.”
Officially, the three players listed on Carolina’s injury report—Davis, Allen and fullback Mike Tolbert—are probable for Sunday’s game after participating fully in Friday’s practice, the Panthers’ final session in preparation for Sunday’s game against the Broncos. The Panthers will hold a walkthrough Saturday and take a team picture at Levi's Stadium.
Davis, who needed surgery to repair the broken forearm he suffered in the NFC Championship, is expected to play with a brace made by a 3D-printer. According to engadget.com, it will mark the first time an NFL player has used a 3D-printed piece of equipment in a game.
Allen, meantime, has been sidelined since breaking a small bone in his foot in the divisional round.
Getting Davis and Allen back should give the Panthers’ already stout defense a big boost against Peyton Manning and Co. Davis, who is considered the heart and soul of the unit, ranked second in the regular season to teammate and fellow Pro Bowler Luke Kuechly in combined tackles. Allen, on the other hand, isn't the dominant force he once was, but the 33-year-old can still dial it up. In fact, he's registered 18 quarterback hits and 18 pressures since joining Carolina in Week 4.
“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,” Rivera said. “But I'd be surprised if it was anything different” than they’re good to go.