Leading up to the first full-squad practice, our position-by-position preview continues with a look at the Eagles’ safeties.
Save ‘em a spot: Nate Allen, Kurt Coleman
We know these two will make the roster. The question is: Will they both start?
Barring injury, it would be a surprise if Allen didn’t line up Week 1 against the Browns as a starter. He’s battled injuries his first two seasons in the league, but seemed to be putting it all together towards the end of 2011. Allen’s shown flashes of being a good player, but with him, it really is all about consistency and durability.
Coleman is a different story. The coaching staff clearly likes him, and there’s a place for him in the league. But he lacks Allen’s upside, and remember, he was benched at one point last season. Coleman is the favorite to begin the season as a starter, but he will likely be challenged by one of the guys behind him at some point.
Fighting for a job: Jaiquawn Jarrett, O.J. Atogwe, Colt Anderson, Tom Nelson, Phillip Thomas
If the Eagles keep four safeties, this group will likely be fighting for two jobs.
Jarrett is perhaps the biggest mystery on the team. While we’ve heard coaches and players talk at length about how the lockout really hurt first-year players, no one seems to want to use that excuse for Jarrett, who couldn’t get on the field as a rookie until players ahead of him were injured. I haven’t heard a coach (or anyone for that matter) say with any conviction that Jarrett will be competing for a starting job with Coleman. At the end of last season, I figured that would be the plan, but it hasn’t happened.
Of course, that is partly what training camp is for. Jarrett will certainly get a chance to prove himself, given that the Eagles used a second-round pick on him in 2011, but nothing is certain in terms of him making the roster.
Meanwhile, the Eagles added Atogwe last month. I know many saw this as purely a depth move, and that could turn out to be the case. But considering that Allen and Coleman both had their share of struggles last season, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Atogwe push for some playing time. The question, of course, is his health. And we’ll have to wait to see how he’s moving later this week when the veterans start practicing.
Anderson was a special-teams stud, but is recovering from a torn ACL. If he’s healthy, he should make the team. Nelson played the last four games of 2011 as a special-teams fill-in. And Thomas signed as an undrafted free agent.
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