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Friday, November 11, 2011
It's Jaiquawn Jarrett time in Philadelphia

By Dan Graziano

Right guard Danny Watkins, the Philadelphia Eagles' first-round pick in this year's draft, wasn't ready to be a starter Week 1. He was ready Week 5, and he's done well with the job since claiming it.

Safety Jaiquawn Jarrett, the Eagles' second-round pick in this year's draft, wasn't ready to be a starter Week 1. Or Week 5. But the Eagles are hoping he's ready in Week 10, because that's apparently what's going to happen.

The concussion that starting safety Nate Allen suffered in Monday night's loss to the Bears looks fairly certain to keep him out of Sunday's game against the Cardinals, which would likely press Jarrett into a starting safety role alongside Kurt Coleman. This shouldn't be a major issue, since the Eagles drafted Jarrett thinking he could start right away. But best-laid plans being worth what they're worth, that's not the way it worked out. Jarrett took a back seat behind Coleman and Jarrad Page earlier this year, and according to Jeff McLane he says he's not upset his chance didn't come sooner:
"I was never frustrated -- it's all about learning," Jarrett said Thursday as the Eagles prepared for Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals. "We didn't have [spring practices]. I had a slow start."

That's the way the narrative reads around this season's Eagles -- that they weren't the team they thought they were going to be because they didn't have enough time to prepare and jell. There are holes in this narrative, of course, chiefly that every other team in the league operated in the same compressed time frame and that they managed to look awful in a home loss to the Bears one week after everything had seemed to be jelling pretty sweetly against the Cowboys. But this is what the Eagles are telling themselves, and at least in some individual cases, like that of Watkins, they appear to be correct.

Jarrett is a very specific kind of safety -- a big hitter who's more of an asset in run support than he is in coverage. And given the way the Eagles' cornerbacks have covered this season and the fact that Larry Fitzgerald is on his way to town, that's a bit of a cause for concern. But he's what they've got, and he was a second-round pick, so it's time for Jarrett to show his stuff.