The Panthers could be getting back two of their most important players on defense, just in time for the biggest game of the season.
Allen, who missed the NFC Championship with a broken foot, practiced Monday along with the rest of his teammates in preparation for Sunday's showdown with Peyton Manning and the Broncos. Carolina Coach Ron Rivera said he’s encouraged but added that Allen must get through Friday’s practice without a setback.
Sure, Allen isn’t the force he once was—he recorded only two sacks in 2015 after racking up double-digit totals from 2007-13—but he’s still effective. Since being acquired from the Bears in late September, in fact, the 33-year-old has recorded 18 quarterback hits and 18 pressures, according to ProFootballFocus.com.
Only one of Allen’s 136 career sacks has come at Manning’s expense (in Minnesota in 2008), though. Of course, he hopes to get No. 2 on Sunday when he plays in the Super Bowl for the first time.
“[Manning] gets rid of the ball so fast, he's so smart, he knows where the ball is going before he even snaps the ball. So, I've hit him a bunch of times, that counts, right?" Allen told NFL.com, laughing.
As for Davis, who suffered a broken arm Jan. 24 vs. the Cardinals and had surgery to insert a plate and a dozen screws a day later, he continues to insist that nothing will keep him from playing at Levi’s Stadium. Like Allen, he also participated in Monday’s light practice.
“I haven’t tried anything that I can’t do yet, but if I get to something, I’ll definitely let you know,” Davis told reporters. “But right now, I’m able to do everything.”
The 32-year-old ranked second on the Panthers in tackles the regular season with 105—13 fewer than teammate and fellow Pro Bowler Luke Kuechly. The duo are considered the heart and soul of Carolina’s powerful defense.
Davis, who has overcome three torn ACLs in his career, says he plans to play with a hard brace protecting his arm.
“It was a light day [Monday] but I took every opportunity that I could to bump it against something and really see how it feels,” Davis told The Charlotte Observer. “All in all it was pretty good. I know it’s going to be different when you’re actually out there and things are live when we’re playing the game on Sunday, but at the same time for it to be my first opportunity to get back out there I really felt good.”
Davis acknowledged that he might have reservations about playing if this were his first or second year in the league. But it’s not; it’s his 11th. And it's the Super Bowl. And because of that, the smart money is on Davis suiting up.