Midway through last Sunday's game against the Giants, Nate Allen took over at free safety, replacing Kurt Coleman. Allen started 13 games last season before tearing his patellar tendon in the Eagles' miraculous win in New Meadowlands Stadium last December.
The 210-pound safety worked hard this offseason to get back into playing shape. Now, his hard work has paid off and he's ready to make an impact as a starter in the secondary.
"The knee feels good," Allen said. "I feel really good, and I'm ready to step in and start this week. I think I can make a difference on the field, whether it's breaking up passes or getting interceptions. We know we need to improve our tackling, specifically. It's something we'll be working on in practice. I think I can definitely help out in the run game."
Strong safety Jarrad Page said that since joining the team in early August, he has been impressed by Allen's work ethic and drive.
"Nate has shown me that he's a professional," said the sixth-year veteran. "He's come out and has practiced hard and played well. He's gotten himself ready physically and is in great shape. He's had a positive attitude and has done all the things he's needed to do. I don't know what more you could ask of a guy."
This week against the 49ers, dynamic tight end Vernon Davis will pose a unique challenge. Davis racked up 105 yards and scored a touchdown in the meeting between the Eagles and the 49ers last season. Allen admitted that Davis is a "tough guy to defend."
"He blocks well. He can outrun you. He does everything well. I had to play against him last year. He's a man," Allen said. "It'll be a good matchup for us. I think we have a lot of playmakers, and I think we'll do a good job."
The Eagles hope the former second-round pick can be the playmaker he was early last season, when he was named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month in the month of September. If Allen and the Eagles can keep Vernon Davis and the Niners offense quiet this week, fans should be able to breathe more easily moving forward.
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