LAKE FOREST | New Bear Jared Allen, a farm boy at heart who owns three rodeo bulls, appeared at his Monday afternoon press conference wearing cowboy boots and a big shiny belt buckle.
But what put smiles on the faces of a dozen TV cameramen and 40 reporters was the Bears cap that fit so naturally on the 6-foot-6, 270-pound defensive end.
"I've got a lot left in the tank. My play speaks for itself," said the 10-year veteran. "I feel I can make waves. I still feel I'm the best at what I do, not 'one of the best.'
"Watch me play this year. I'm almost a year removed from my shoulder surgery. My body feels great."
The Bears, in dire need of a pass rusher, signed Allen to a four-year, $32 million contract with $15.5 million of it guaranteed.
Last season, he had 11.5 sacks with Minnesota, upping his career total to 128.5.
The Bears' 31 sacks were last in the NFL.
"It's not about bells and whistles and how great the facilities are. It's about winning games," Allen said. "And absolutely, I think the Bears are closer (to a Super Bowl) than people think."
General manager Phil Emery was quick to note the Bears had 27 expiring contracts last August but have signed 28 players -- 16 returning veterans, nine who were unrestricted free agents and three who were free agents.
"Relentless, high-energy player and he's been that way through all phases of his time in this league," Emery said of Allen. "Five-time Pro Bowl player, four-time all-Pro. Former NFL player of the year.
"He still has productivity, which is why we were interested in him."
It had been rumored Allen might sign with Super Bowl champion Seattle, and though talks went smoothly, he felt it was a "better fit" in Chicago.
The Bears' revamped defense, a mixture of promising youth and proven experience, has him excited.
"One thing that excites me most is Jay Ratliff. When he's healthy, he's an absolute beast," Allen said. "What he can do from the nose tackle spot or 3-tackle spot in the run and pass game is huge.
"When he consistently gets three or four yards deep, the quarterback has one way to go -- me or him."
Allen also praised linebacker Lance Briggs, calling him "an absolute monster," as well as cornerbacks Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings, and former Oakland Raider defensive end Lamarr Houston.
"We're (also) gonna get after it in the run game," Allen added. "We're gonna be a vaunted Bears' defense once again with that front seven.
He called the offense "potent and deadly," which makes him wish training camp opened next week.
"God gives us eyes in the front of our head to look forward, not back," said Allen, who will wear No. 69.