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Friday, December 24, 2010
Eagles DB Coleman ready to step up against Vikings

Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA -- Kurt Coleman is the latest rookie defensive back to get an opportunity with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Coleman will start at free safety when Philadelphia (10-4) hosts the Minnesota Vikings (5-9) on Sunday night. The Eagles can clinch their first NFC East championship in four years with a victory.

"This is why you play," Coleman said Thursday. "You love big games. Any type of competitor wants to play in this type of game, this type of atmosphere. It's nothing new to me. I'm going to be comfortable out there playing, and I'm going to have a lot of fun."

Coleman replaces fellow rookie Nate Allen, who is done for the season after injuring his right knee in the second quarter of Sunday's 38-31 victory at the New York Giants.

It will be the second start of the season for Coleman, who picked off former Eagles star Donovan McNabb for his first career interception when he filled in for Allen on Nov. 15 at Washington. Allen missed that game, a 59-28 Philadelphia victory, with a neck injury.

Coleman was a three-year starter at Ohio State, and Philadelphia got him in the seventh round of the draft.

"He showed that he's a good player," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "He's smart. He looks like he really enjoys playing the game. Plays fast and aggressive. Looks like the guys around him trust him, and he did well when he had the chance."

The loss of Allen, a second-round pick, is the latest blow for the Eagles' banged-up secondary. Starting cornerback Ellis Hobbs was lost for the season to a neck injury in November. The other starting corner, Asante Samuel, missed three games with a knee injury before returning against the Giants.

The only secondary starter to play in every game is strong safety Quintin Mikell. And not coincidentally, the Eagles have allowed 30 touchdown passes this season, a franchise record.

"I'm happy that we're winning games," Mikell said, "but I'm frustrated that we're letting teams score so much."

But Mikell said he was impressed at how quickly Allen and Coleman have learned the Eagles' scheme.

"Last year it was a lot different with Macho (Harris) and Quintin Demps," said Mikell, naming two former teammates who were tried at free safety in 2009. "They really weren't picking things up as quickly. It wasn't as big a problem this year as it was in the past."

One thing nobody seems to know is the identity of Minnesota's starting quarterback this week. Brett Favre sustained a concussion in Monday night's loss to Chicago, but hasn't been ruled out against the Eagles. If he doesn't go, he again will be replaced by rookie Joe Webb.

"Obviously we think it's going to be Favre," Mikell said. "I think it's going to be Favre. Just knowing him, I think he's going to be out there. But if not, we have to be prepared for Webb, too."

Coleman said he would love to play against Favre.

"That's something you can always tell (people) for the rest of your life," he added.