Nate Allen, the rookie who has started every game for the Eagles this season, has a neck sprain and will "struggle" to play against the Redskins, head coach Andy Reid said Monday.
Allen was replaced Sunday by fellow rookie Kurt Coleman, a seventh round draft pick who had played in spots throughout the season, but never as a starter. If he starts this week, Reid said he will face a bigger challenge, now that opponents have seen more of him.
"The key now is, if you're a young guy and you've got to continue to learn, if Nate's not able to go this week, you know that there's a little film out there on you, and teams are going to have time to try to exploit weaknesses and you've got to make those adjustments and make sure that you strengthen those weaknesses."
Coleman was a four-year starter at Ohio State, but as a back up, gets few repetitions in practice, so he was facing a tough challenge stepping into the game and facing Peyton Manning.
"He played in big games you know that coming in, you know he's smart … and physical," Reid said.
Much of today's press conference focused on Coleman's hit on wide receiver Austin Collie and the resulting penalty. Reid saw both sides of the issue. As a coach, he defended his player's hit. But he said he understands the NFL's intention in cracking down on head shots.
"I don't see what else he could have done differently," Reid said of Coleman. Coleman appeared to lead with his shoulder into Collie's shoulder. Any helmet-to-helmet contact came on the follow through of the initial collision.
"I completely understand. I’m behind what the league’s trying to do," Reid said. He later added, "In the heat of the battle, I can’t sit here and tell you that I’m the calmest guy in the world when I see those things. But when you step back and you look at it, I understand the big picture things."
In other injury news, cornerback Ellis Hobbs is going to see a back specialist to see if his back is affecting his hip flexor injury. Reid was non-committal when asked if Hobbs could play Monday. Reid said the Eagles have talked about bringing in cornerback Al Harris, formerly of the Packers, but cautioned that Harris is 36 and coming off of a serious knee injury.
Guard Max Jean-Gilles has a concussion. If he can't play Monday Nick Cole will fill in. Todd Herremans has an ankle injury, though Reid said he expects his starting left guard to be OK.
And Reid again praised his defensive coordinator Sean McDermott, who came under fire after the team's meltdown in Tennessee, but whose defense held Manning to just seven second-half points Sunday. He said McDermott had a "phenomenal plan for playing against Peyton and their offense" and credited the defensive line for creating pressure on the quarterback.