Allen suffers foot injury; Whittaker nears return

CHARLOTTE – Defensive end Jared Allen fractured his foot during Carolina's 31-24 victory over Seattle and is considered day-to-day.

Allen told head coach Ron Rivera that he played the final two series of the game with pain in his foot. An MRI on Monday confirmed a fracture.

"We've got to make the best decision for the football team and for him," Rivera said.

Allen, acquired in a trade with the Chicago Bears in Week 4, has started 13 games for Carolina including Sunday's NFC Divisional Playoff. The NFL's active sacks leader posted 25 tackles and two sacks during the regular season.

"His presence takes a lot off of other guys," defensive end Kony Ealy said of Allen. "He's been through it and he knows how to persevere through situations."

The 12-year veteran is seeking his first Super Bowl appearance, and Rivera knows he'll do everything he can to help Carolina advance.

"If there is a glimmer of hope that he can play, I promise you, he'll probably try to play," Rivera said. "If he can't, he'll be around. He's going to want to do whatever he can to help us."

FOZZY NEARING RETURN: Running back Fozzy Whittaker, who suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 16 and hasn't played since, is nearing full strength.

Whittaker said he plans to return to practice on Wednesday.

"I'm feeling pretty good. I've been working with the training staff trying to get back healthy and back on the field," Whittaker said. "Yesterday was very emotional knowing that my brothers are out there laying it on the line. I was supporting them on the sideline, but it pained my heart not being out on the field helping them win."

Fortunately for Whittaker, his teammates came through, and he'll get another chance to play if he proves he's fully recovered in practice.

As you might recall, it was the speedy Whittaker who scored a critical 39-yard touchdown on a screen pass to help push the Panthers past the Arizona Cardinals in last season's Wild Card Playoff.

"I'm very grateful for another opportunity," Whittaker said.

NO CONCERN FOR STEWART: On Sunday, Rivera said running back Jonathan Stewart tweaked his foot during the win over Seattle. On Monday, Rivera said he was experiencing some ankle soreness but otherwise the Pro Bowl running back is fine.

View the top photos by photographer Kent Smith from Carolina's NFC Divisional Playoff against Seattle.

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