When the Philadelphia Eagles brought in veteran safety Oshiomogho Atogwe, the general consensus was that he was acquired simply to add depth and veteran leadership to the Eagles defensive backfield. The more things progress, however, the more it seems as if Atogwe might be given a legitimate opportunity to compete for, and win, a starting job. The talk coming out of training camp is that Eagles head coach Andy Reid, defensive coordinator Juan Castillo and safety coach Mike Zordich are completely open to Atogwe winning the starting job. They have made it clear, however, that nothing is going to be handed to him and it is up to him to win the job based on his performance on the field.
Atogwe, who signed with the Washington Redskins last year but started only 8 games because of a nagging toe injury, definitely has some work to do in order to get up to speed with the Eagles coverage schemes. While the coverages themselves are similar since most of the teams in the league use the same ones, the terminology varies widely from team to team. Atogwe has never been one to shy away from putting in work, which is something that should benefit him greatly coming into a new system.
The incumbent starters in the Eagles secondary coming into training camp are Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman, both coming into their 3rd seasons in the league. Allen has pleased the coaches so far in the off season, even drawing comparisons to a young Brian Dawkins, although though he isn’t quite as physical as Dawkins. Allen is a ball hawk who could rack up a solid number of interceptions in 2012. Coleman isn’t as big or physical as Allen, but has a very strong grasp on the mental side of the game.
It will be interesting to see how the battle at the safety position pans out, as well as to watch the development of last year’s 2nd round pick Jaiquawn Jarrett. Jarrett is definitely in need of a strong training camp in order to prove to the Eagles that they made the right decision drafting him with such a high selection last year. Any time there is a truly open competition for a starting job, it brings out the best of those involved, and those who don’t succeed fall off the map. That can only be beneficial for an Eagles defense that gave up entirely too many big plays last year.