The top of the Eagles’ 2010 draft has been a popular topic of conversation here in Philadelphia, and not for the purposes of throwing verbal bouquets at the parties in question.
Brandon Graham, the choice over Jason Pierre-Paul and Earl Thomas.
Nate Allen, the Donovan McNabb pick and successor to Brian Dawkins that just doesn’t have those Dawkins’ qualities. (Few do.)
Both have spent time recovering from serious knee injuries and both have spent time down on the mat. Graham’s struggles have been highlighted more given that he was the 13th overall pick and it’s so easy to contrast the start of his career with that of Pierre-Paul’s. Beat up and labeled a bust, Graham looks like he has turned the corner and his stock has rebounded.
Allen’s, meanwhile, has taken a hit, as Andy Reid announced on Wednesday that Kurt Coleman and Colt Anderson would be the starting safeties against the Redskins this week.
“I feel for him,” said Graham. “I talk to him before every game and tell him, ‘Hey, we’re the 2010 first and second picks. ‘ I know everything hasn’t been going his way and I know everything hasn’t been going my way, but I try to keep him up as much as I can. You can ask him, I always say, ‘Nate. You’ve got to get you one. You’ve got to get you one, man. Don’t worry about nothing else.
“I know that he tries hard and I know that it sucks that the production is not there like he wants it to be, but Nate’s a great player and he has to make sure that he doesn’t get frustrated because we’re still young and things can still happen.”
Allen was pretty strong out of the gates, recording three interceptions in his first four games as a rookie. But that was it for the rest of the season. The South Florida product ruptured the patellar tendon in his right knee in late December against the Giants while attempting to tackle Mario Manningham, and had a down 2011 season as he fought to regain strength and confidence.
You can argue that the confidence still has not fully rebounded. Allen has been shaky this season and, at least for this week, will be out of the starting lineup in favor of Anderson and Coleman, who was drafted in the seventh round of that ’10 draft.
“It was just, ‘Colt’s been playing well and that’s just the best fit for right now,’” said Allen.
“You’ve got to be a professional about it and continue to work and contribute and help the team however you can.”
Allen has been nothing if not professional since being selected 37th overall by the Eagles. One of the criticisms coming out of college, though, was that he was not a great or violent tackler, and he has not been able to shed that label at this level. Reid indicated that Allen’s demotion has to do with that aspect of the game.
“Right now Kurt is a little more stout in there and we need that this week,” said Reid, who added that Allen will likely be working in on Sunday.
Bigger picture, the Eagles are about to go through some serious changes come the end of the regular season. There will be roster turnover along with the likely coaching changes, and the secondary will be seriously looked at by the powers that be. It might not be the best time, in other words, to be getting demoted. But Allen seems to be taking it in stride.
“That’s the game of football. There’s going to be ups and downs,” said Allen, “you just have to respond.”
Graham believes he will.
“I think that he is going to go out there whenever he gets his shot again and try to make the best of it. Sometimes it takes a person to lose his job to try and regain it, and I think he’ll handle it well.”
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