Previewing the 2012 Philadelphia Eagles: Backup Safeties

This is the ninth article in a series in which I will take a look at the expected backup positions on the 2012 Philadelphia Eagles.

As fans, we know who the starters will be for almost every position next year. Michael Vick is the quarterback, LeSean McCoy is the running back, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are the wide receivers. We know all that.

What we don’t know yet as fans is who will be the backups at most positions, so this ten-part series will highlight my predictions for the non-starters on the 2012 Philadelphia Eagles.

Click here to read the backup quarterbacks and backup running backs and the backup wide receivers and backup tight ends and backup offensive linemen and backup defensive linemen and backup linebackers and backup cornerbacks.

Backup Safeties:
Heading into the 2012 season, only one of the two starting safety positions is set in stone. That would be strong safety Nate Allen, the team’s second round draft pick in the 2010 draft. Allen started his whole rookie season, earning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month honors in September, before suffering a torn patellar tendon in December. He briefly lost his starting job early in the 2011 season and was plagued by the injury for a portion of the year. Big things are expected from Allen in 2012.

Third-year player Kurt Coleman is in the running to start at free safety for the 2012 season. Coleman earned the starting job late in 2010 but played poorly in 2011. He ranked 61st of 86 qualifying safeties, according to Pro Football Focus.

He will be competing with veteran Oshiomogho Atogwe for the starting spot. Atogwe, 31, was signed last week to provide what the Eagles called necessary depth at the safety position. Considering the poor play by Coleman last year, it’s not at all unrealistic to think that Atogwe could start in 2012. After all, this is a player who led the NFC in interceptions in 2007 and ranked as the Rams’ MVP in 2008. He may be past his prime and his performance in training camp and preseason will indicate whether he is a starter or a backup in 2012.

Allen, Coleman, and Atogwe make three safeties on the roster. You can pencil second-year player Jaiquawn Jarrett in as the fourth. Jarrett didn’t play much as a rookie in 2011, mostly because he didn’t seem ready to play, but the Eagles used a second round pick on him just a year ago so they’ll definitely give Jarrett another chance.

Whether the Eagles keep four or five safeties is up in the air. If they keep a fifth, it’ll be a battle between Colt Anderson, the team’s best special teams player, and Tom Nelson, who was signed late last season after Anderson suffered a torn ACL. Anderson would probably win that spot, but he needs to be completely healthy and still capable of producing on special teams to make the team in 2012. He’s one of the best special teams player in the NFL though, so it might be a smart move for the Eagles to keep him around next season.

Perhaps keeping five safeties means the team will keep one fewer cornerback. It remains to be seen.

So my prediction is that Allen and Atogwe will start. Coleman and Jarrett will be the backups. And Anderson makes the team because of his special teams abilities.

This article was written by Bryn Swartz, the top writer for Eagles Central and a featured NFL columnist on Rant Sports. Bryn has written more than 1000 articles in less than two years as a member of Rant Sports. His blog, Eagles Central, was named the 2010 Ballhyped Sports Blog of the Year. To read a portfolio of Bryn’s best work, click here.


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