Allen confident he'll be ready for Bears this week

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Jared Allen hated the view from the couch. He hopes to be in on the action this time.

Allen is confident he will be ready to play at Carolina this week for the Chicago Bears after missing a game because of pneumonia.

The five-time Pro Bowl defensive end is feeling "much better" after sitting out Sunday's loss to the Green Bay Packers. He returned to practice Wednesday on a limited basis and hopes to be ready when the Bears visit the Panthers this weekend.

"We're taking it day by day, and right now, I'm on track," Allen said.

There was more positive news on the illness and injury front for the Bears. Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall (ankle) went through a full practice, as did safety Chris Conte (shoulder). Center Roberto Garza and left guard Matt Slauson, sidelined since the opener by ankle injuries, returned on a limited basis as did defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff (concussion).

The Bears appear to be healing after getting hit hard by injuries in the first four games. They also lost cornerback Charles Tillman for the remainder of the season after he tore his right triceps for the second straight in their victory at San Francisco in Week 2.

For Allen, sitting out against Green Bay was "brutal." That brought his string of 113 starts to an end.

"It wasn't a fun game to watch," he said. "It breaks your heart not being out there with the guys. Just glad to be back and ready to rock and roll. We've got 12 games to get after it, and that's what we're focused on."

Allen felt ill going into the Monday night game at the New York Jets two weeks ago. He was diagnosed with pneumonia two days later and watched from the couch as Aaron Rodgers led the Packers to their 700th win last week. Allen was not hospitalized, but he said his weight dropped from 254 to 239 because of the illness. It was at 241 Wednesday morning, but he's been working out, regaining his strength.

He figures the weight will come back now that he's eating more, something he wasn't able to do much of the past week and a half.

"Everything feels good right now," he said. "I'm going to get another good lift in right now. I think it's just eating and trying to rehydrate and getting all that done. Hopefully, I'll be back up by the weekend."

The biggest addition to a revamped defense, Allen was limited to just one preseason appearance because of the birth of his daughter and a bruised shoulder.

In three games, he has a big zero in the sacks column. Even so, he felt he was starting to find his rhythm after the games at San Francisco and New York.

He thought he was close to taking down the Jets' Geno Smith in the fourth quarter even though he came away empty-handed.

Allen's return this week would be a huge boost for the Monsters of the Midway. The Bears sure could have used him against Green Bay. Rodgers had all the time he needed in that game, and the Packers never punted.

"It's crucial to have that kind of leadership, continue to roll along with those guys," defensive end Willie Young said. "It's good to have him back."

Ratliff's return would also be a big lift to the defensive line. He still has to be cleared to play after missing the past two games.

On the other side, Marshall practicing without limitations for the first time since he sprained his right ankle against Buffalo in the opener was a big positive for the Bears. He has just three receptions in the past two games.

As for the offensive line, Trestman said Garza remains a starter even though Brian de la Puente has played well. The same goes for Slauson, although it was not clear if either will play this week. Both have been sidelined since the opener and Trestman called them day to day.

"It's good to see them out there," he said. "It's good to see them in pads. They certainly want to get out there as quickly as they can and we'll see where they are (Thursday)."



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