Eagles Notebook: Eagles Name Nate Allen Starter at Safety
"Nate [Allen]," Kelly simply stated. "Film evaluation, games played, production so far through the preseason, camp and OTAs."
Allen rotated with fifth-round rookie Earl Wolff throughout the preseason and will continue to do so into the regular season.
"Earl's pushing, and he'll play, explained Kelly. "Right now Nate's a little bit ahead of him."
Since the departure of Brian Dawkins, the safety position has been a gaping hole in an Eagles defense that many predict is going to struggle badly this year. Their trio of safeties is arguably the worst in the entire NFL. On many teams, starter Patrick Chung may be a good second or third safety, here he is clearly the best of the bunch.
And while there may still be questions about the safety position, the linebacker spot also has some questions. The teams decisions to release linebackers Chris McCoy and Emmanuel Acho had some scratching their head. However, there's no doubt about the Kelly's rationale for doing so.
"Special teams," Kelly stated. "Any back‑up spot we had on our team is all the value of special teams and where are those guys going to play? So if you're going to be a back‑up player here, you have to be on the team."
Kelly said the team wanted to keep eight linebackers, and they did, five inside backers and three outside backers. Special teams played a big role in those decisions, but it certainly leaves the team short-handed on the outside.
"That's where that is," Kelly explained about the position. "Right now at our outside linebacker spot we have a lot of rush guys and not a lot of drop guys. The one drop guy we had was Connor Barwin. We'll cross train Casey [Matthews] out there. Just in case you're at 46 in a game, you better have some versatility so, if somebody like Connor were going to go down, you better have another drop guy."
Philadelphia is going to get H-back James Casey back in time for Monday night. He was at practice on Wednesday, and should have a role along with Brent Celek and second-round rookie Zach Ertz.
One guy who is definitely out for Monday night is offensive tackle Dennis Kelly. Kelly is still recovering from back surgery.
"Yeah, Dennis is the one guy," Kelly said.
That means there is a chance that cornerback Brandon Hughes makes it back in time for the opener.
"I haven't gotten the final decision," Kelly acknowledge. "But he's got another meeting with the doctor later in the week."
• Brandon Boykin is starting the season as just the nickel corner according to Kelly.
"Yeah, Cary Williams and [Bradley] Fletch[er] will start at the outside corners and Brandon will be the nickel right now," said Kelly.
• Philadelphia's eight-man practice squad includes is defensive end Brandon Bair, offensive lineman/defensive Isaac Remington, safety Keelan Johnson, offensive tackle Michael Bamiro, safety Trenton Robinson, wide receiver Greg Salas, and running back Matthew Tucker.