CHARLOTTE – Despite his best efforts and hopes, defensive end Jared Allen will not play in the NFC Championship.
Head coach Ron Rivera officially ruled Allen out Friday. Allen fractured his foot in the NFC Divisional Playoff versus Seattle and actually managed to participate in practice Thursday but didn't practice Friday. Rivera said the hope is that Allen could return if the Panthers advance to the Super Bowl with a victory Sunday over the Arizona Cardinals.
"That's the thought process behind it. If there's an opportunity, that would be great, especially for him," Rivera said. "He's very disappointed. He took it very hard, but we've got to look at this going forward as far as what's best for us as far as the team is concerned on Sunday night."
Rivera said Kony Ealy will start in Allen's spot, and rookie Ryan Delaire will be active. Charles Johnson, the other starter at defensive end, is listed as probable after sitting out practice Friday, but Rivera said it was only to give Johnson a day of rest.
"Not happy, plain and simple. I'm ready to rock," Allen said. "Coaches' decision, and I have to live with it. I respect Coach, so I have to respect his decision.
"Hopefully, we can get this one knocked out and be ready for the Super Bowl. I'll support my guys and be the best cheerleader I can be this week." Running backs Jonathan Stewart and Fozzy Whittaker and defensive tackle Dwan Edwards all fully participated in practice Friday and are probable. Whittaker (ankle) is set to return after missing the Divisional Playoff.
View photos from the Panthers' week of practice leading up to their game against the Cardinals.