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Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Allen finds safety in staying with Eagles

By Phil Sheridan

PHILADELPHIA -- Safety Nate Allen could have moved on, maybe found a more stable situation than what he'd experienced during three seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Instead, Allen decided to re-sign with the team that drafted him in the second round in 2010. And that was only possible because, despite the shortcomings in the secondary last season, the Eagles wanted Allen to return.

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"This is where I wanted to be," Allen said after Tuesday's minicamp practice. "I didn't know exactly what was going to happen. I knew it wasn't all in my control. They gave me an opportunity to come back and I'm grateful for it."

Allen's rookie year was Sean McDermott's last season as Andy Reid's defensive coordinator. In his second year, Allen played for Juan Castillo, the offensive line coach improbably converted to defensive coordinator. In 2012, Allen played for Castillo at the start of the season and Todd Bowles after Reid jettisoned his most mystifying hire.

So this figures to be Allen's first experience playing in the same defensive system under the same coordinator for a second season in a row. That has to be good.

"He'll play faster and have a lot more impact," defensive backs coach John Lovett said. "Every system is different on how they want you to play certain calls. He has to fit into those. You don't just erase. You develop habits over time. For him, he's had to learn a new system every year. He's very happy because what happened last year was he was shaky in the beginning of the year and he started making more plays by the end of the season."

Allen is running with the first team alongside free agent acquisition Malcolm Jenkins. The Eagles went after Jenkins because he is exactly the smart, tough safety they've been looking for since Brian Dawkins' departure.

The hope was that Allen would be that guy. He was drafted just a couple months after Dawkins left. But Allen's chances to developing into an elite safety were handicapped from the start by the instability in the coaching staff.

Now, with Jenkins here, Allen has a chance just to play ball, without pressure or unrealistic expectations.

"He's one of those guys, you just want him to cut it loose," Jenkins said. "Nate is knowledgeable. He knows what to do. He knows the defense. Always in the right spot. When he sees it, and he does see it, he just needs to cut it loose and let it go. He plays a little cautious at times, but you know he's going to be in the right place at the right time."

And that's just where Allen feels he is after re-signing with the Eagles.

"It just gives you a chance to play your best," Allen said. "You already know the scheme, you can hit the ground running."