When the Eagles signed former Redskins safety Oshiomogho Atogwe, they were not just bringing in another body for Training Camp. They hope that Atogwe will play his way onto the roster and even compete for a starting job.
This added competition should be beneficial for the team. Secondary/safeties coach Michael Zordich believes that the offseason acquisition of the veteran safety will have a very positive influence on the Eagles' other safeties because extra competition is always good for bringing out the best in players.
"Certainly he's a pretty darn good football player, and you bring another good player into the mix with Nate (Allen), Colt (Anderson), Kurt (Coleman), JJ (Jaiquawn Jarrett), you know that's some great competition," Zordich said. "That's what you want. In this league you want great competition because that brings the best out in each individual player and ultimately is a big plus for the team."
Competition will be plentiful for sure with Atogwe, Allen, Anderson, Coleman and Jarrett all fighting for the starting safety roles, while third-year safety Tom Nelson and rookie Phillip Thomas both hope to make the team.
The safeties are not necessarily restricted by a label of "free safety" or "strong safety," as Zordich pointed out that the players who make the most plays are the guys who will be playing on Sundays.
Zordich praised Atogwe's ability to create turnovers, but Jaiquawn Jarrett is not going to simply stand by without putting up a fight of his own for a starting job.
Jarrett, according to Zordich, was in great shape during Organized Team Activities, and he expects him to be in the same shape when he arrives at Lehigh on Wednesday.
"For him to have the ability to spend nine weeks with us in the offseason, in the OTA's, to sit in the classroom, to walk on the field room, to have the practices, to go through our system for nine weeks, and he has improved; I think now coming into camp, he's got a viable chance to play," Zordich said.
Zordich emphasized the importance of knowing the system and being comfortable out on the field mentally so that players are able to "just react."
"If you're thinking out there, it just slows down the brain, slows down the feet and you're not seeing things as you should," he said. "So for JJ it's definitely understanding the system, which he's starting to do extremely well. It will free his mind up and then his football instincts will be able to take over."
Only time will tell who earns the starting jobs at the safety positions and who survives the roster cut. In the meantime, there are roster spots for grabs, and these safeties will be sure to compete for them.
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