Kalil ‘a little excited’ to face mentor Allen

For Matt Kalil’s first two seasons, Jared Allen was the defensive end across from him in practice. With Allen now in Chicago, the two will meet in a game situation for the first time. Kalil talked about their past and the challenge ahead.

Jared Allen said whoever has the best technique will win in the individual battle between him and Minnesota Vikings left tackle Matt Kalil.

Kalil, however, admitted that he struggled with his technique early this season after having offseason knee surgery. But going against Allen provides the additional challenge of the student now playing against mentor.

“You never know everything and me coming in as a rookie and going against Jared, who the year before had 22½ sacks, I was definitely willing to learn from that guy,” Kalil said. “He taught me a lot. Obviously I’ve kind of gone off of my own and built from that. Great teacher, teammate from when he was here, and I’m kind of just excited to go against him. It’s going to be fun.”

Although Allen has only 1½ sacks so far in his first season with the Chicago Bears, part of the issue was a bout of pneumonia that caused Allen to miss one game and he lost about 15 pounds in the process. But he said on Wednesday he is nearly back to his playing weight and feeling much better.

Going against Kalil will be part fun, part work.

“He’s been beat a few times in the past there, but who doesn’t get beat a few times?” Allen said. “He’s a good player. He still has good feet, still has good technique, he’s still firing off the ball in the run game. So it’s just one of those things where we will have to take advantage of the situation because he knows me and I know him, so we will just have to see whose technique is better that day.”

Kalil said he and Allen are still friends. While their battles in practice over the previous two years were a learning experience for Kalil, he believes it will be even more challenging in a game situation.

“Obviously game tempo is a lot more intense. I’ve gone against him in camp and that’s pretty much the hardest I’ve seen against him,” Kalil said. “Obviously game I’m sure is a notch up above that. People say he only has 1½ sacks, but there’s probably eight or nine plays where he was a hand away, so I don’t think he’s really lost a step at all. I’ve heard people saying that, but he’s still a great player from what I’ve seen, still has a knack for the ball, still is going to make plays and it’s going to be a challenge.”

During their time together, Kalil learned about hand placement and footwork from Allen.

“He was pretty much a mentor of me over here. I’m sure he’s going to try to use the things he taught me,” Kalil said. “… Obviously the one-on-one matchup is great and he’s the guy I’m going against so obviously I’ve got to study him. I’m a little excited, but I just try to stay even-keel and work on what I have to work on and not really change anything up.”

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