Nate Allen Looks Like Starter at Safety Position
(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
With two weeks separating the Philadelphia Eagles from the start of the 2014 NFL football season, they finally have their starting safety alongside Malcolm Jenkins: Nate Allen.
Second-year Eagles head coach Chip Kelly announced Saturday that the fifth year safety from South Florida will sit out the Eagles fourth and final preseason game (Listen on 97.3 ESPN, coverage starts at 6:30, kickoff at 7:30) against the Jets on Thursday, giving him the nod over second-year players Earl Wolff after a particularly competitive battle that raged through both mini and training camps.
"I see Earl Wolf playing, definitely," Kelly stated. "I don't think Nate will play, but that depends on the depth at that position."
When asked what Wolff playing indicate, Kelly didn't exactly announce Allen was the starter, but didn't give Wolff a ringing endorsement.
"It means Earl needs a lot more reps," Kelly explained.
Coach Chip Kelly would not commit to Allen, but he did have good things to say about him, and him sitting out Thursday's game is a pretty good indication that he will be the starter along-side Jenkins against the Jaguars with Wolff serving as the third safety.
"I'm really happy with how Nate's played," Kelly admitted. "He's had an outstanding camp."
Allen, the No. 37 overall pick in 2010, was a horrific bust through his first three seasons. But he showed enough improvement last season that the Eagles are going to give him another chance. He signed a one-year, $2 million contract that included another $1 million available in playing-time incentives.
Return depth a focus
As expected, there is a lot of competition to see who will be the main return man - that position is still to be determined.
"We'll see," Kelly said. "Nolan's a guy that we've got looks at, but he was coming off an injury, so we didn't put him out there. He's done it in games. You obviously have Darren. What is Huff's status in terms of when we get Josh back because we know how he did against Chicago and he can do it. Kenjon Barner has done it, so it's a lot of the decisions that have made based upon health more than anything."
As for punts, it looks like Sproles will get the first crack at returning after impressing the coaching staff in camp.