As a player in the NFL, worrying too much about losing your job can lead to that fear becoming a reality. In a game where competition arises from all sides – not only from players on the other team but also from players on your own team – self-confidence is paramount. For safety Kurt Coleman, this reality is something he knows well.
A seventh-round pick out of Ohio State in 2010, Coleman beat the odds and made the Eagles roster his rookie season. Last year, Coleman entered the season in the starting lineup. He was benched after the Week 3 loss to the Giants, but worked his way back into the lineup and posted a team-high four interceptions.
Now in his third year, Coleman is ready to step up.
"I don't want any handouts," Coleman said after practice Friday. "I want everything to be earned and I'm going to go out there and take everything I can get. I feel like I'm one of the hardest workers out here. I believe in myself and this team, so every day I'm going to come out here and prove myself."
After regaining the starting role, Coleman did not disappoint. He was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his three interception performance against the Redskins in Week 6. He also finished the year second on the team in tackles with 96.
This season, the Eagles spent much of their offseason re-signing and extending the contracts of their own players. But one of the team's few free agent signings was Oshiomogho (O.J.) Atogwe, a safety formerly of the Rams and Redskins. Still, the upbeat Coleman said he isn't worried about his job security. In fact, he said, he welcomes the addition.
"Obviously, it brings in another great player, which every team needs," Coleman sad. "You need a group of 53 guys that are willing to do whatever it takes and O.J.'s a vet. He and I have talked a lot so it's a great addition to our safety group, let alone our team. So, we're only going to be better with him.
"Everyone's in here to compete, no matter if it's O.J. or Jaiquawn (Jarrett). I've got to go out there and do my job. So whatever it takes, whatever we've got to do, we're going to do it."
His performance came in the wake of last year's lockout, which prevented him from working with his coaches for much of the spring. Now that Coleman has had a full offseason, he is ready to go full force again.
"We got in early April and it took us a good nine weeks to get back together with our teammates and we build a lot of camaraderie throughout that time," Coleman said. "We understood the playbook offensively and defensively and we get a chance to go against each other.
"Last year, we didn't and we came into Training Camp kind of off. (This year) everyone's in shape, everyone's focused and has the right attitude."
It's this attitude that could propel Coleman – and the secondary – to great heights this season. And for Coleman, it all starts when the pads go on Saturday at Training Camp.
"When you put the pads on, it really separates the boys from men – people who want to hit, and people who are scared to hit," Coleman said. "In this game you can't be scared to hit anybody. So I think that's what the fans get to see, and it's a fun time for us to go out there and really knock some heads."
Make sure to follow us on Twitter @EaglesInsider