If there are any doubts about new Bears defensive end Jared Allen continuing to play at the same elite level he has for the past decade, they're not coming from him.
Allen has 128½ sacks since he entered the league in 2004, more than anyone during that time, and his motor runs as hot as it ever has.
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"My play speaks for itself," said Allen as he was introduced to the media at Halas Hall on Monday. "Just watch me play this year. I'm in great shape. I'm a full year now off (shoulder) surgery. Workouts are going phenomenal. I'm excited."
Bears general manager Phil Emery lured the soon-to-be 32-year-old former Viking away from the world champion Seahawks during free agency thanks to a clandestine operation last week at the owners' meeting in Orlando, Fla. Allen's agent, Ken Harris, approached the Bears' general manager, and they were able to keep the mutual interest covert until a deal was done. Emery is convinced he'll get his money's worth for the $32 million, four-year deal it took to sign the five-time Pro Bowler.
But just to ensure he wouldn't have buyer's remorse, Emery went back to watch the Vikings' 2013 regular-season finale against the Eagles and their Pro Bowl left tackle, Jason Peters. Allen had 2 sacks, 2 quarterback hits, 2 pressures and a tackle for loss.
That gave Allen 11½ sacks for the year, the seventh straight season he's had at least 11.
"(He's a) relentless player, a high-energy player, successful in all areas of his life," Emery said. "He continues to have productivity, and that's why we were interested."
Aside from the money, Allen's interest in the Bears has a lot to do with winning and his belief that, with himself and Emery's other defensive additions, his new team is a contender.
"It's a cool feeling when you go into an off-season knowing you have a chance to win," Allen said. "In the NFL, all we ask as players is a chance to win every game you're in. I've been on teams where we didn't have that chance, and those are tough times to struggle through."
In three of Allen's six years in Minnesota, where he averaged just over 14 sacks, the Vikings had double-digit wins and went to the playoffs. In the other three seasons they won a total of 14 games, including last year's 5-10-1 mark.
"I've obviously played against this (Bears) offense enough to know that it's very potent and deadly," Allen said. "My excitement comes with knowing that there's going to be opportunities to play some great defense and there's going to be opportunities to win multiple, multiple games."
Allen says he looks forward to playing on the same unit as Pro Bowl veterans like cornerbacks Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings and linebacker Lance Briggs. But he's especially eager to work with tackle Jeremiah Ratliff, one of 16 of their own players the Bears have re-signed since late December of last year.
"I've seen what he's been able to do over the years in Dallas," Allen said. "When he's healthy, he's an absolute beast in the middle."
Allen's health has rarely been a concern. He never missed a start in six seasons with the Vikings and played more than 90 percent of the snaps last season. But because the Bears have also brought in starting-caliber defensive ends Lamarr Houston and Willie Young in free agency, Allen won't be required to play almost every snap -- not that he'd mind. His playing time has already been discussed with defensive coordinator Mel Tucker.
"If I need to rest, they'll rest me," Allen said. "I do feel if I'm the best player on the field, then I kind of work in a way where I like to break a guy down. It's a matter of time before an offensive lineman is going to make a mistake, and I'm going to take advantage of it.
"But, at the same time, I'm not naive. If there's a 15-play drive, absolutely, you know, get a fresh body in there. (But) I come from an old-school mentality. I'm not going to tap my helmet. I might stare at the coach on the sideline and (imply) 'Get me out,' but I'm not going to do one of these (taps his head)."
Allen believes he and the Bears are an ideal fit. He'll personally have the role he wants and a chance to help his team achieve the ultimate success.
"I wouldn't be here if they told me, 'Hey, you're going to be a third-down rush guy,' " Allen said. "I have a lot left in this tank. I feel like I can make waves. And not just for me personally -- I want to win a Super Bowl. Let's make that clear. With an offense and a quarterback, you always have a chance. Now you throw a good defense into that (mix)."
Factoring in all the elements during a process that he was determined not to rush through, Allen is confident he and his family (wife Kim and daughter Brinley) are where they belong.
"I'm here for a reason," he said. "I'm not a big fan of cities. I grew up on a horse ranch, but I've always liked Chicago."
If Allen remains the same player he's always been, the feeling will be mutual.
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