While the veil covering exactly what kinds of schemes and philosophies Chip Kelly expects to implement on the Eagles has kept many things a mystery to date, one of the admissions Kelly has made since taking over as head coach has been that he will emphasize the importance of special teams. That was made clear on Monday when the Eagles re-signed two of the best special teamers in the league, bringing back long snapper Jon Dorenbos on a four-year deal and safety Colt Anderson on a one-year deal.
Dorenbos has been the Eagles' long snapper for every game, including playoffs, since midway through the 2006 season, while Anderson has been the ace of the coverage units since he joined the Eagles nine games into the 2010 season.
For both players, there was an emphasis on finding a home in Philadelphia, where they've established themselves after struggling to find a role in the NFL. Dorenbos spent parts of five seasons with the Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans before latching on with the Eagles, while Anderson was toiling on the Minnesota Vikings practice squad for a second consecutive season when he got the call to join the Eagles.
"I'm super excited to stay with this team and to be in this league as long as I have been," said Dorenbos on a conference call. "But to also remain on the same team is such a huge honor. Thank you to the Eagles, (Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie), coach Kelly, (special teams coordinator Dave) Fipp, everybody here for giving me the opportunity to compete and giving me the opportunity to be a part of the new era and new regime. I'm super excited."
"I think all along I felt like I was going to come back here," said Anderson, who was set to become a restricted free agent. "I think both sides, it worked out for the both of us. I'm just extremely thankful to be here for one more year. I'm a Philly guy, I feel like I'm a blue-collar guy like everyone from Philly and I feel like I can relate to all of them, so it was an easy decision to come back here for me."
While Dorenbos is truly a specialist, Anderson proved late last season that he can contribute on defense as well as on special teams. The Montana product, who is listed at 5-10, 194, started the final four games of the 2012 season at safety and impressed, despite his relative lack of size at the position. All the more impressive was that it was Anderson's first season removed from a torn ACL, which he suffered late in the 2011 season.
"When I got hurt last year, I felt like I was going to get back, that wasn't a question," said Anderson. "I knew it was going to be hard work, but I was willing to take on that feat. I started feeling like my old self really towards the middle of the season and then I got an opportunity to play safety and I knew that was going to be the only opportunity I had so I was just going to make the most out of my opportunity ... You only get one shot in the NFL, so I knew that I had an opportunity, I was going to make the most of it."
Anderson's biggest mark, though, is made on special teams, where it's almost an upset if he's not the player making the tackle in coverage. Anderson impressed so much and so immediately upon his arrival in Philadelphia that he was named a captain by a vote of his teammates heading into the 2010 playoffs, despite having only played in eight games.
"I've told Colt this before," said Dorenbos, "he is probably the best special teams guy I've ever played with. Not to say that other guys haven't been, but he's definitely one of the best. His tenacity, his desire to play, and when you get a guy who flat-out makes plays and finds his way to the ball ... he never has an excuse. In the business, you call guys 'true pro's' and a true pro is someone who shows up every day on time and just does his job the best he can. Colt's a true pro. It was an honor to play with him over the last few years. I tweeted earlier, I'm super excited to share this day with him. We've become great friends and it's an honor to be his teammate. He deserves every bit of it."
So while much of the "old" goes out as Chip Kelly's "new" arrives in Philadelphia, Anderson and Dorenbos return as two players more than qualified to contribute to whatever comes next.
"It's a new energy and new is good," said Dorenbos. "New is a chance to prove ourselves again, so I'm looking forward to it."
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