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Bears' Allen says issues with his production are technical, not physical

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LAKE FOREST, Illinois — Jared Allen wanted to make one thing clear. He's not ready for a rocking chair.

The Chicago Bears defensive end insisted this week he is as lively as ever and concerns about a decline are misguided.

"I heard that you guys tried to make it sound like I was old," he said, laughing. "Context, people. Thought you were professionals. Goodness gracious. I think I could still run 4.6, so let's get that out there."

The five-time Pro Bowl defensive end turned some heads recently when he said after a lopsided loss at New England two weeks ago he needed "to try and find a half-step." Even though he did not say he lost half a step, his comment simply added to the angst around Chicago as the Bears (3-5) try to get a grip on a season that's slipping away.

They dropped four of five before their bye, with ugly losses to Miami at home and against the Patriots on the road. Now, after a week off, they get Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in Green Bay on Sunday night.

If the Bears are going to make something of this season, they had better start soon. It would help if Allen rediscovered the productivity that made him a five-time Pro Bowl pick and one of the prized acquisitions for Chicago in an offseason overhaul to the defense.

The Bears signed Allen to a four-year deal hoping he could spark a dormant pass rush and help Chicago reach the playoffs for just the second time since the 2006 team's Super Bowl run. The plan has not quite unfolded the way they hoped.

A defense that ranked among the worst in the league last season is 21st overall. When it comes to sacks, the Bears are right in the middle of the pack, tied for 14th with 20.

Allen has just 1 1/2 sacks after seven straight double-digit seasons with Kansas City and Minnesota. But at 32, he insisted the burst is still there and that issues are not physical.

That was clear to him as he studied himself over the break. Allen reviewed video provided by the coaches, and what he saw were "small technical things" that were the difference between a pressure and a sack.

He noticed issues with his footwork and technique, and the fixes could give him that extra half-step.

"You find little things and you go, 'Ahh, you know what? There it is.' And it (stinks) because it probably cost you five or six sacks," he said.

Now would be a good time for him to deliver.

Rodgers has terrorized the Bears, going 11-3 against them. That includes an NFC title game win at Soldier Field during the 2010 season and a clinic in Chicago in September.

Rodgers threw for 302 yards and four touchdowns while posting a 151.2 rating to lead the Packers to a 38-17 victory. He had all the time he needed in that game, particularly with Allen, who has given him fits, sidelined by pneumonia.

Including the playoffs, Allen has 16 1/2 sacks in 12 games against Rodgers. In 2009, Allen had 7 1/2 sacks against him.

"He looks like he's back to himself after the sickness," Rodgers said. "He's got a high motor. He's a really intelligent guy."

The Bears' line will obviously need to do a better job this time creating pressure. But they also have to contain the run game and disrupt the receivers.

"You can't allow them to be in third-and-short," Allen said. "We've got to be able to force him into longer down and distances to where he has to throw the ball downfield, where they have to spread out. We've got to do a good job of getting him off his spot, and forcing him to run where we want."


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