EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- For the Eagles starters, the team's preseason finale didn't mean much. They ran and stretched some before kickoff, but then spent the entire game on the sidelines wearing caps and T-shirts. But for the players on the roster bubble, Thursday's game meant everything. Included in that latter category is Kurt Coleman, who did everything that he possibly could to leave a lasting impression with his coaches.
Entering the game, Coleman knew that he would see a good amount of playing time in the secondary, but what he didn't expect was how many snaps he would see at cornerback. After Trevard Lindley left the game with an ankle injury early in the third quarter, Coleman was approached by Eagles coaches and asked to step in.
"We were low on defensive backs going into it, and then when we lost Trevard we were really low on defensive backs," Coleman said following the Eagles 27-20 loss to the New York Jets. "It was me or another one of my guys. I felt somewhat comfortable. (I'm) a little tired, but I thought I hung in there pretty well."
Coleman was told prior to the game that there was a possibility that he'd have to play some snaps at cornerback. Though it wasn't something that the fourth-year Ohio State product is accustomed to, Coleman was willing to do whatever it took to help the team.
"It wasn't supposed to be as much as it was, but once Trevard went down it was like 'we need to fill in that spot,' and David (Sims) did a good job of playing corner too, when he was asked, and it was fun," said Coleman, who saw a handful of snaps at cornerback in the first half as well. "It was a new experience for me, but it was fun."
Coleman hadn't played cornerback since his first collegiate game at Ohio State. He compiled nine total tackles, which was good for second best on the team. He was able to keep Jets receivers in front of him and felt better as the game progressed.
"At first, it was a little unnatural," Coleman admitted. "I didn't want to give up a big play, and then in the second half I definitely felt a lot more comfortable. I started to get into a groove, knowing when I wanted to press, play off, bail, et cetera. I needed to get a couple hits in at corner and that felt really good."
Coleman can now add cornerback to a repertoire that includes playing safety and special teams, and he believes this versatility will go a long way towards making the 53-man roster.
"I think everything goes into it, especially when you're not starting," Coleman said. "They need some of those do-it-all ace cards, and I feel like I'm one of those guys that can play corner, play nickel, play safety and obviously I'm going to give everything that I've got on special teams to make this team better. Ultimately, it's (the front office's) decision, but I love this team, I love what we're about and the direction that we're heading and I'm just looking to make any team better."
After the game, head coach Chip Kelly noted that Coleman is still a safety and that his time at cornerback was simply to fill a need for this particular game. Kelly knows that wherever Coleman is playing, he is going to give it his all.
"He was the one guy out of that safety group that was playing tonight that we could throw out there," Kelly said. "Kurt's a football player. Whether it's covering kicks on special teams or things like that, you know you're always going to get maximum effort from him. He's a guy that doesn't matter if it's a practice, doesn't matter that it is a game - he's always going to play hard."
The deadline for NFL teams to trim down their rosters is this Saturday at 6 P.M. No matter what happens to Coleman, he feels that he has put his best foot forward.
"God's going to take care of me," Coleman said. "I'm happy with what I've done, with what I've shown this team and with what I've put on film. Ultimately, everything's going to take care of itself. I've proven that I can play in this league. Whatever happens is going to happen, and I just have to take whatever situation that is heading my way and make the best out of it."
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