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SAN JOSE, Calif. — The Carolina Panthers will open Super Bowl 50 with their defense intact. Linebacker Thomas Davis and defensive end Jared Allen will start Sunday against the Broncos, coach Ron Rivera said Friday.

"I really was real pleased with what we got from both those guys. I'm excited about having them back on the football field," Rivera told Charlotte Observer reporters in a conference call. "The only last hurdle obviously is the conversation I have to have with the doctors just to make sure and that they're feeling comfortable. But I'd be surprised if it was anything different."

Davis broke his right forearm in the NFC championship game against the Arizona Cardinals. He'll wear a protective cast on the arm that was repaired surgically with a metal plate and 12 metal screws.

Allen, 33, missed the NFC title game with a broken foot suffered in a divisional round playoff victory against Seattle. He was limited in practice Wednesday, but practiced fully Thursday and Friday. Allen, now in his 12th season and a likely Hall of Famer, is playing in his first Super Bowl.

Allen is in the twilight of his career. After seven consecutive years of double-digit sack seasons, he made only 5½ with the Chicago Bears in 2014 and only two this year with the Bears and Panthers, despite starting 15 games. He was traded from Chicago to Carolina in late September.

He said the Panthers are a special team.


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"It would be phenomenal to win a Super Bowl," he said. "I don't even know how to describe it. This is a team that is second to none in chemistry. It is family, family, family. It's honestly like going to work with your best buds every day."

Defending Cam Newton

Davis is angry at former New England Patriots safety Rodney Harrison.

Harrison, now an analyst for NBC Sports, said Thursday on "The Dan Patrick Show" that the best way to stop Carolina quarterback Cam Newton is to "take him out."

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Asked what he meant, Harrison said, "I would try to hurt him. I would go right to his knees. That's the goal."

Davis responded Friday morning on Twitter: "How can you sit there and say you would intentionally try to hurt another player? #NoRespectForTheGame get this clown off the air!!"

Patrick Saunders, The Denver Post



Thomas Davis, Carolina Panthers
Carolina Panthers' Thomas Davis (58) celebrates after a play against the Atlanta Falcons with Luke Kuechly (59) and Charles Johnson (95) in an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Dec. 13, 2015. (Bob Leverone, Associated Press file)