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Monday, August 26, 2013
Eagles safety dance goes into overtime

By Phil Sheridan

PHILADELPHIA -- The competition for one Eagles starting job is going into overtime.

Head coach Chip Kelly announced that his starters will not play the preseason finale against the New York Jets Thursday night, with two exceptions: at cornerback, where injuries force him to use one of his first teamers, and at strong safety, where the starter has yet to be determined.

Incumbent Nate Allen will play against the Jets. So will rookie Earl Wolff, a fifth-round pick. So will David Sims, a second-year player who started one game for the Eagles last year.

One of them will start Sept. 9 at Washington -- that is, unless the Eagles can find safety help among the players released this week.

“It's a work in progress at the safety position,” Kelly said. “ So I'm not going to sit here and say either one of those guys are playing at an all-pro level right now. They both know what they need to work on. I'm seen improvement from Game 1 to Game 2 to Game 3, but it's a work in progress for those guys.”

Kelly was referring to Allen and Wolff, who appear well ahead of Sims. The problem is that neither Allen nor Wolff really stepped forward this summer and Kenny Phillips, the former Giants first rounder brought in to take the job, was released Sunday.

“We’re just going to go out and play,” said Allen, a second-round pick in 2010. “We’re going to try to make as little mental errors as we can and make as many plays as we can. We know there’s competition there. That makes both of us better.”

Wolff’s only standout moment in Jacksonville Saturday came when he took a hopeless angle on Jags running back Jordan Todman. Wolff sprinted to a spot long vacated by Todman, who ran 63 yards for a touchdown.

“I feel like I learned faster than the coaches thought I would,” Wolff said. “Consistency is big. Not trying to do too much, just doing my job, is big. That one play, I took a bad angle. I’m not known for that.”

Wolff said he got advice from former Eagles Pro Bowler Brian Dawkins, the last real playmaking safety to wear an Eagles uniform.

“I asked him to come out and check me out,” Wolff said. “He said I need to train my eyes a little more, make sure my eyes are in the right spot. That’s what I’m trying to do right now.”

Will the eyes have it? Thursday night is Wolff’s chance to make his case for opening night starter.