It's not as if Jared Allen's Hall of Fame-caliber career needed energizing after last year, when he racked up his seventh straight season of double-digit sacks.
But signing with the Bears as an unrestricted free agent after spending six seasons with NFC North rival Minnesota has given the 32-year-old defensive end a fresh outlook.
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Allen's sack totalsNew Bears defensive end Jared Allen has collected 128.5 sacks in his NFL career:
Year Sacks Year Sacks
2004 9 2009 14.5
2005 11 2010 11
2006 7.5 2011 22
2007 15.5 2012 12
2008 14.5 2013 11.5
"Change is good if you allow it to be good," the 6-foot-6, 265-pounder said. "It definitely energizes you. For me, it's the excitement of being part of something great."
The Bears' defense was the opposite of great last season. But Allen is a cornerstone of a rebuilding plan that has elevated expectations for last year's 8-8 team and its championship-level offense.
In his 10 seasons, Allen has 128.5 sacks, which ranks 12th on the career list. But he's savvy enough to know he hasn't accomplished anything for his new team in a league that thrives on a "what have you done for me lately" mentality. As the highest profile player in a large group of newcomers, Allen is aware of the expectations that arrived with him, and the motivation that pressure provides.
"I don't know if you call it selfishness or not, but I don't want to be that guy who they feel like, 'We shouldn't have got him,' " Allen said. "When I signed, I wasn't going to be that guy that wasn't worth the money ($32 million over four years). When you're with a franchise with so much history, you don't want to be the guy that (people say) 'He wasn't a true Bear.'
"My motivation to be the best at what I do is a self motivation. It's probably more a fear of failing than it is necessarily thriving to be the best. I just want guys, when I leave this league, to say, 'He did it the right way. He gave everything he had, and not one day was he stealing checks.' So that's what motivates me, that's what energizes me."
That and wanting to impress his new team.
"Even though you've played against these guys," Allen said, "you're trying to prove yourself to the coaching staff. And to your teammates, to let them know they can trust my day-to-day habits and (that) I'll be ready to play on Sunday."
Allen is a five-time Pro Bowler so he is accorded a certain level of respect and seen as a leader. He defers to veterans Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs for leadership, but he's ready to help.
"I try to lead by example," Allen said. "I know I have a reputation for being outspoken, but I'm really not. I'm really not a rah-rah guy. (But) I'm not afraid to call a guy to the carpet because I expect accountability. I think as pros we all should expect accountability from each other.
"But I didn't come here to take over leadership. I didn't come here because I thought they needed a figurehead on the defense. I came here to be a part of something."
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