One year ago, starting free safety Kurt Coleman was preparing, just like many of his teammates are this week, for the preseason finale against the Jets, whom the Eagles have played in the preseason 11 straight years.
Prior to that game, Coleman was entrenched in a roster battle with Quintin Demps and Macho Harris. All three safeties were not going to make the final cut, so the seventh-round pick knew that he had to shine in the final preseason game if he wanted to secure his spot on the roster over two veterans.
The Ohio State alum had a coming out party in that game, recovering two fumbles and returning them both for touchdowns. As you know, the rest is history. Coleman made the team and contributed in his rookie year taking over the free safety job late in the season after an injury to Nate Allen. Now, he is entrenched as the starter at free safety and has quickly become one of the young leaders on defense.
"The fourth preseason game is big for guys trying to make the roster," Coleman said. "It's a chance for second- and third-string guys to play the whole game. "
Coleman understands the reality of the situation; he experienced it just one year ago. Twenty-seven men who are currently on the active roster won't be come Saturday. Tough decisions will be made, and for the guys on the bubble, this game means everything.
"Those guys haven't been getting a lot of reps in practice the last few weeks, so they know they have to go out there and prove themselves," Coleman said. "If they don't make this team, you play well and have good film to show 31 other teams.
"A couple big plays can totally change a coach's opinion of you. You can go from being a forgotten man to someone coaches think can be a playmaker."
While it was proposed this offseason to reduce the number of preseason games from four to two, Coleman knows how much that would have hurt guys on the roster bubble.
"This is a crucial game for a lot of players," he said. "If they had brought it down to only two preseason games, it would have made it tough for a lot of guys to go out there and prove themselves."
When the Eagles line up against the Jets Thursday night, make sure to be on the lookout for some of the young guys who are making plays. You just might find the next Kurt Coleman.
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