When Andy Reid declared Nate Allen as the starting safety opposite Quintin Mikell in his press conference closing out spring practices, it merely confirmed what onlookers had seen on the practice field since Marlin Jackson went down with a ruptured Achilles tendon.
Since that injury to Jackson, Allen got nearly all of the reps at free safety with the first team defense and was welcomed into the fold by his teammates. But the fact that Reid was willing to proclaim the job Allen's to lose so early on speaks volumes to the team's confidence in the rookie.
Drafted in the early part of the second round (37th overall), Allen is likely to become the second straight rookie to start alongside Mikell to open the season after Macho Harris set that bar last season. But, in addition to transitioning from the college game to the pros, Harris was also learning a new position – he's since been moved back to his natural position of cornerback. Allen, on the other hand, played safety throughout college and is likely to be better prepared to step in right away.
But for his part, Allen isn't taking anything for granted as he heads into his brief vacation before next month's training camp.
"I know I have a long way to go," Allen said on his last day at the NovaCare Complex before heading home. "I keep telling everybody that nothing's written in stone and I just have to keep working and keep getting better because I'm young and still have a lot to go."
In that vain, Allen plans to keep his head in the playbook this summer.
"I'll just be working out and still studying a little bit," he said. "I have my notebook and everything so I'll just go home with that and stay in shape and get ready for camp."
Mikell, Allen's presumed partner in the secondary, said early on that he's been impressed not only with Allen's play on the field, but with the rookie's insistence on picking the veteran's brains for advice.
"Oh yeah, (I) definitely (seek out advice) from all the veteran guys," Allen said. "Quintin (Mikell), (Quintin) Demps, Macho (Harris), Asante (Samuel), everybody, and they've all been real helpful with it.
"(I ask them) mainly about the playbook and stuff; how it works and the system and everything. I'm still trying to get a feel for how everything works."
All eyes will be on the rookie when he gets to Lehigh, so as he readies himself for his first NFL training camp, Allen feels he's as prepared as he can be.
"It's been a lot of fun," he said of the spring. "My first NFL OTAs and I'm loving it so I'm ready to get going into the season."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 11:59 a.m., June 19