In a peculiar move, Andy Reid announced today that Kurt Coleman and Colt Anderson would start at safety on Sunday ahead of Nate Allen.
Allen will work into the rotation, Reid added, but the switch was a clear demotion for the Eagles' 2010 second-round draft pick.
"I was alright with it," Allen said on Wednesday. "You got to be a professional about it and just go out there and continue to work and contribute and help the team out however you can."
Anderson, who was filling in for the injured Coleman, played particularly well against the run in the last two games. Reid had hinted last week that he was likely to keep Anderson in as a starter. But having Coleman, a 2010 seventh round pick, ahead of Allen is a bit of a surprise considering the Eagles have more invested in Allen.
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A demotion this late in the season suggests that perhaps the Eagles have given up on Allen. Reid was asked what the 25-year-old safety had to do to remain a starter in the NFL.
"The first thing was to stay healthy. He's been up and down with that," Reid said. "The other thing is just continue to get better. That's the primary thing -- just keep taking steps forward."
Allen has started in 38 games over the last three seasons. He only missed one game because of a hamstring injury this season. He suffered a season-ending knee injury in Dec. of his rookie season. At the time, Allen appeared to be a young safety on the up. Last season, he showed flashes, but was inconsistent as he recovered from the knee injury.
There was little improvement in 2012. In fact, Allen appeared to have taken a step back. The Eagles have credited him with a career-high 60 solo tackles, but he has no interceptions, forced fumbles or sacks. Allen was asked if his play had dipped since the injury.
"It's hard to say, man," Allen said. "I'm not going to say it had anything to do with my knee. It is what it is."
Reid claimed that he was going with Anderson and Coleman because they were better against the run and would matchup better against the Redskins. Reid said that Coleman, who has also struggled for most of this season, was a "little more stout" against the run than Allen.
"Colt came in and we asked him to fill in at the line of scrimmage and be a physical player and he did a nice job with that," Reid said. "We needed that at that time, and so we're going to need it this week. [The Redskins] run the football and do a good job at that."
Allen has had games in which he has looked strong against the run. Last season in Buffalo, he was all over the field. But the third-year player has missed his share of tackles in the box and seemed to lack the chippiness you need out of the safety position.
"That's something you can always improve on, along with other aspects," Allen said.
The Eagles, like many teams across the league, have had trouble evaluating the safety position. They expended two second round picks on the position -- Allen in 2010 and Jaiquawn Jarrett in 2011 -- in back-to-back drafts. Jarrett was released in September.
It didn't help the youngsters that the Eagles switched to a scheme during the 2011 off-season that placed more responsibility agaisnt the run on the shoulders of both safeties.
Still, it would seem to make sense to see how Allen would finish out the season now that the Eagles went back to a more traditional scheme for safeties. It could be they don't expect to bring either Allen or Coleman back and just want to see if Anderson can handle the role since he could be back as a special teams ace.
Anderson will be a free agent in the off-season. Allen and Coleman have a year left on their contracts.