Everything seemed to be perfect at the Eagles training facility on Tuesday. The most rookies that they Eagles have ever had on a practice field were working hard and all of the veterans showed up with no drama. Until Eagles safety Marlin Jackson went to tackle Jeremy Maclin after a pass over the middle.
Let the new season of the injury bug begin.
Jackson was described as not getting up from the field and eventually holding his head in his hands as he was carted off the field. Many of the players realized he was in pain but didn’t expect the worst, however Jackson knew the damage that had just been done—a torn Achilles tendon that will most likely keep him on the sidelines for yet another NFL season.
This is nothing new for the former Indianapolis Colt. In the last two seasons, Jackson has played a combined 11 games. During that span he managed to tear his ACL in both his left and right knees, which was a major concern when the Eagles signed him this offseason. Until the torn Achilles, he claimed that his knees were doing very well. Not the best of luck for a talented athlete.
After getting rid of Brian Dawkins two seasons ago, the Eagles have been waiting for someone to step up as a consistent starter at the safety position. Quintin Mikell is still developing at strong safety. Quintin Demps couldn’t get the job done last season, as he battled injuries and the Eagles secondary was plagued with giving up big plays and not having a tackling presence that half-resembled Dawkins. There has been talk about training cornerback Macho Harris to learn how to be a safety in the NFL, considering he wasn’t the sharpest at cornerback last year. The front office has already noted that they will not go after free agent safety Oshiomogho Atogwe from the Rams. And finally there’s Nate Allen, the Eagles second round draft pick that is regarded as the “Donovan McNabb draft pick”.
Is he ready to go? According to him, he thinks he is well on his way to making an impact on the defense:
“I’m confident I could do that [start at safety]. It’s just a matter of learning,” he said to Philly.com. “A lot of it is mental, you know? . . . I’m real confident in what I’m doing, but still, I’ve still got a while to go, got to learn the defense still.”
Do the Eagles rely on young talent for the second straight year? Demps, who took over as the potential starter last season, was a huge bust in the mind of defensive coordinator Sean McDermott. With the pressure heading into his first season, there is certainly a chance that starting could go straight to the head of rookie Nate Allen.
With all that said, it seems as though it’s going to be a position battle between Demps and Allen. Based on the lack of production by Demps in the last two seasons and Allen being a rookie, it’s hard to be optimistic about this situation. Looking at the list of free agents still available, the list is quite small. Since there is no interest in Atogwe, the only other standout seems to be Atari Bigby of the Green Bay Packers, which would be a huge but unrealistic acquisition.
It’s tough to make conclude what is best for the team so early during minicamp. And who knows what the injury bug could do next.