Eagles fans have come to know Colt Anderson as a standout on special teams; the kind of player who charges headfirst into oncoming traffic and makes the big tackles. But over the last two weeks, we've seen Anderson in a new role – that of a difference-making safety.
Starting safety Kurt Coleman has been sidelined for the past two weeks as he recovers from a chest injury he suffered against the Cowboys. Anderson was given the opportunity to start on defense for the first time since his first year with the team in 2010 and has taken advantage. Anderson recorded 11 combined tackles and a pass defensed in his two starts against the Buccaneers and Bengals.
His experience on special teams has also helped in the run game, where Anderson has been able to effectively show off his tackling prowess.
"Tackling's all about opportunity," he said. "Sometimes there's an opportunity to go high, sometimes there's an opportunity to go low. Obviously, I'm not the biggest guy, so I have to use that to my advantage in my tackling ... As a smaller player, I can use my height as an advantage because I'm lower so I can obviously tackle lower and I don't have to go as far."
Last Friday, head coach Andy Reid said that he believes Anderson has played well enough to possibly keep the starting job for the next two games. That would mean Coleman, who has started 27 games in his three years in the league, would sit. Regardless of who plays, Coleman has been impressed with his teammate's performance.
"Colt's been playing well in these last two games," Coleman said. "I thought he was around the ball a lot. Every play he had to make something, he did it. I'm happy with what he's been doing in his short time of playing. It's exciting to see him out there really making plays. I'm proud of him, I'm happy for him; I want to see him continue to succeed."
Coleman is not yet fully recovered from his injury, but is still eyeing the field. He is obviously eager to play, and still exudes the same confidence that helped the seventh-round pick become a starter.
"I'm confident in my abilities," Coleman said. "I'm going to continue to do my part as far as this team. Whenever it's my time, it's my time. That's all I can do ... Any opportunity I get, I want to be able to help this team out and make plays when presented the opportunity."
This week, Anderson isn't worried about who may or may not start. He's worried about improving during practice and earning the right to start. It's that attitude that makes Anderson one of the leaders on special teams, and it may be the reason he becomes a key contributor on defense for the last two weeks of the season.
"Any time you get an opportunity to play a defensive position in the NFL is a big-time deal and I just have to continue to get better and be more disciplined," Anderson said. "As far as I'm concerned, I have to go out there and prove this week that I deserve to be out there."
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