BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Remember when Andy Reid compared Jaiquawn Jarrett to Brian Dawkins?
It’s true; he did, just after the Eagles selected the Temple safety in the draft last year.
Well, Jarrett may still be a long way from the former Eagles great; heck, he may be a long way from ever starting in the NFL. But the second-year safety brought a little of the nastiness that Reid said he would bring during Sunday’s physical and physically-demanding afternoon practice.
“Coach [Todd] Bowles said the other day that during the live periods none of us were trying to hit,” Jarrett said. “Today we wanted to come … and be physical.”
Jarrett set the tone by delivering a blow to LeSean McCoy after the running back had already gained 15-plus yards. Jarrett led with his helmet, a questionable decision against the Eagles’ Pro Bowl tailback, but he later stood fullback Stanley Havili straight up with a textbook tackle.
In between the hits, Jarrett went in to tackle McCoy on another run and as he wrapped up the running back he knocked the ball loose for a fumble. McCoy fumbled only once all of last season. He’s had two fumbles in the last two practices.
“You attack the ball-carrier as well as the ball,” Jarrett said. “Just going in for a strip attempt.”
Jarrett, who struggled as a rookie following the lockout and still hasn’t cracked the starting lineup despite being a second-round pick, needed a strong practice. While Eagles coaches have urged caution with Jarrett, it’s been a chore to find a sign from one that he could turn into something special.
He’s already been labeled a bust by some skeptics even though he’s played only one season – a season without an offseason to learn the system.
“I don’t really pay attention to what people say,” Jarrett said. “I’m just staying focused and continue to look forward.”
Looking ahead, Jarrett is still pegged to be a backup. Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman have started together at safety since last season and haven’t done anything early in camp to suggest either is in jeopardy of losing his job. The Eagles added veteran O.J. Atogwe in June. Right now he and Jarrett are the second team safeties.
The Eagles may carry only three of the above on the 53-man roster if special teams ace Colt Anderson returns from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in time for the season opener. The Eagles generally give their early round draft selections some leeway if it comes down to him and Atogwe.
Dawkins needed a season to get his feet under him after the Eagles selected him in the second round of the 1996 draft. It’s not fair to compare the two. Of course, Reid did it first.
“It’s not fair to compare him to Brian Dawkins, but they’re the same stature; size, same speed and they both will torch you,” Reid said in April, 2011. “[They’re] different personalities, different guys, but I don’t think you want to run over the middle on either one of them. They’ll both blow you up.”