BOURBONNAIS -- By his own admission, veteran defensive end Jared Allen is not a cheerleader or a rah-rah guy.
But the five-time Pro Bowler is still a leader, which was obvious during the Bears' first training camp practice Friday morning.
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"I thought Jared set the tone defensively with Lamarr (Houston) and the guys up front (including) Jeremiah (Ratliff)," coach Marc Trestman said. "You watch the way they move and run to the ball, they really made an effort to show the guys around them how to do it. That was clear through (Allen's) performance. He not only started fast (but) finished strong."
The 2013 Bears defense did neither. But Allen knows a lot about both, especially as a pass rusher.
Since entering the league in 2004 as a fourth-round pick out of Idaho State, the 6-foot-6, 270-pounder has 128½ sacks, more than anyone in the league. Allen, who will be one of the central figures in resurrecting a defense that was dormant for much of 2013, has his own leadership style.
"You're a leader by what you do," he said. "I've had success in this league, so for me it's nothing I want to say to a guy. I'm going to encourage a guy, I'm going to help young guys out if they want it.
"But the way I'm going to lead is I'm going to show up to work and I'm going to put my best on the field, and I'm going to expect the guy next to me to be his best."
Entering his 11th season, Allen has reached double digits in sacks for seven straight seasons, including 11½ last year. His four-year, $32-million contract includes $11.5 million guaranteed and a $3 million base this season and says the Bears' brain trust believes he's still got plenty of game left.
Allen won't have to do it alone, though. The Bears spent $35 million on a five-year deal to lure Houston away from the Oakland Raiders to complement Allen at the other D-end spot. The interior of the line will reap major benefits if Ratliff continues to build on his late-season resurgence of 2013 after he recovered from groin surgery.
But Allen also chose the Bears because of the defensive leaders who have been in place for years, like linebacker Lance Briggs and cornerback Charles Tillman.
"The young guys see how the vets who have had success in this league collaborate and work together, so there's not much that has to be said," according to Allen. "You show up and go about your business, and you expect guys to do the same."
Statistically the Bears were the worst run defense in the NFL. Every player on Allen's side of the ball must contribute to wipe away the 2013 memory of allowing more points than any team in franchise history.
"It's never one guy," Allen said. "It's Lance, Peanut (Tillman), it's that collective whole. The identity is going to be how fast we fly around, how hard we hit people, creating turnovers. That's been the identity of the Bears' defense, stopping the run. We got away from that.
"But it's a different year. Our goal is to smash the run this year and then get after the quarterback when we have that opportunity and create turnovers. It's going to be the energy of each individual and what they bring to the table."
Allen's contributions have already impressed Trestman.
"Jared's very consistent," the coach said. "He's a very likable guy in the locker room. He's a fun guy to have a conversation with. When he's out here (on the practice field), you don't hear him; you see him. And he's working."
Young players should take note.
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