Position series: Eagles safeties

July, 5, 2012
7/05/12
2:08
PM ET
Our position-by-position look at the NFC East takes a look at the safety position today, and it so happens that's one of the biggest question marks facing the Philadelphia Eagles as they head to training camp.

Projected starters: Nate Allen, Kurt Coleman

Reserves: Jaiquawn Jarrett, O.J. Atogwe, Phillip Thomas, Tom Nelson, Colt Anderson

[+] EnlargeNate Allen
Howard Smith/US PresswireNate Allen and his fellow Eagles safeties will get to be physical for the first time in training camp on Saturday.
Potential strength: Well, Allen, I guess. He's shown enough when he's been on the field to make the Eagles think he's a starting-caliber safety in the NFL, and the key now is for him to be able to stay on the field. The Eagles are counting on Allen to stay healthy and take a big step forward in his third year in the league, as he's the best of a somewhat questionable bunch at this position and their best option at free safety. Anderson, incidentally, isn't a contributor at safety. But assuming he's recovered from last year's injury he makes the team as a reserve because of his ability to dominate on special teams, where he's a major strength for the Eagles as one of the best in the league.

Potential weakness: They need either Coleman, Jarrett or Atogwe to assert himself in camp as the starting strong safety, or else that position will be a weakness again this year. Coleman has played more than Jarrett, and Atogwe just signed within the past couple of weeks, which is why Coleman is first on the depth chart now. But once the hitting and the preseason games begin, it's entirely possible that Jarrett, the 2011 second-round pick, could make a big leap and steal the job. Or that the veteran Atogwe, who struggled to stay healthy last year in Washington, could beat out both guys with his experience. Jarrett is the one with the most potential here to be a big-time safety for them for a long period of time, but he has to show it to beat out Coleman.

Keep an eye on: Thomas. Undrafted out of Syracuse, he's a prospect with a lot of raw talent who had off-field issues in college. Like a few undrafted rookies in Eagles camp (Chris Polk at running back, Cliff Harris at cornerback), he'll get a chance in camp to show that he can outperform his draft-weekend stock. And given that he's competing at a position of real need, that chance could pay off. He's probably a project guy who can help more down the road. But as we keep saying, you never know with safeties until the pads go on.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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NFC EAST SCOREBOARD

Sunday, 10/26
Monday, 10/27