(CBS) Jared Allen is only in his first year as a defensive end with the Bears, but he’s no stranger to the NFC North after six seasons with the Vikings.
And that means he understands the stakes that a Chicago-Green Bay matchup brings. On that note, Allen has one game in particular circled on the Bears’ calendar this season: the Nov. 9 contest against the Packers at Lambeau Field that will be featured on NBC’s Sunday Night Football.
“When Green Bay comes to Minnesota, it’s definitely a rivalry,” Allen said in an interview with the Mully and Hanley Show on Friday morning. “They travel well, and it’s a big week. But I feel like when the Bears go to Lambeau, that’s kind of like the big game from the sense of talking to guys on the field. I used to talk to Greg Jennings, and he was like, ‘The Bears are definitely our big game.’
“This division is good. Look at the quarterbacks we have in this division. Look at the running backs we have in there. This is division is going to be tough, and it’s fun.”
Allen added he has a “respects the heck out of” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, but he wants to sack him this season after not getting him last year. Allen also believes this Bears defense is a revamped bunch that can help change the recent course of the rivalry.
“I believe in the guys we have here, and it shows up on the practice field,” Allen said. “If you were to watch film from last year to this year, it’s night and day (difference) from technique and the standpoint of guys just being physical and making plays.
“You have to have an identity. Everybody talks about being tough, but it’s about the mental toughness. It’s about being able to do the monotonous things day in and day out. It’s about being technically sound. Toughness comes into how fast you can differentiate pass blocks vs. run block, knowing your keys. That’s the type of mental toughness they teach. We’re going to fly to the ball, we’re going to be physical and we’re going to take the ball away. That’s going to be our identity. You have to have that, and that’s how we practice. Everyone wants to be tough, but it’s not that physical (type) … It’s doing the day-in and day-out, those monotonous things over and over and over and perfecting those.”
Listen to Allen’s full interview below. He also talks about the evolution of himself as a player, the Bears’ team leaders and how much Chicago has to prove.