His job is not a glamorous one in the least, but it is one that Colt Anderson relishes. He just wants to play. He wants the opportunity to step on the playing field every Sunday and take another step forward in his NFL career. His is a story of what every smaller, slower, under-the-radar kid wants to accomplish: Get a chance and take it the distance.
Doesn't this young guy need a fan club? Is there a more Philly kind of guy than Anderson, who goes about 5 feet 10 (generously) and maybe 190 pounds? There are tackling dummies bigger than Anderson. Max Jean-Gilles eats lunches that are larger than Anderson. Here is a young man who looks like he should be sitting in an English literature class rather than navigating the fast life of the NFL kickoff and punt coverage games.
But Anderson is out there. He is making a difference. On a special teams group screaming for a leader early in the season, Anderson became that guy almost instantaneously once the Eagles signed him and brought him to Philadelphia from the Vikings practice squad. Anderson has played in four games and he already is tied for second on the team with 10 special teams tackles, including five in his debut at Washington.
He is No. 30, in case you don't know, and if he were standing next to you in a phone booth (remember those?) you wouldn't know who he is.
"I can't say I've been recognized," Anderson said, laughing. "Doesn't matter to me. As long as I'm here, helping out, I'm happy."
Anderson hasn't had a lot of time to sit back and consider his life options. He wasn't draft coming out of Montana, but he played well enough in the preseason to earn a spot on Minnesota's practice squad. The Eagles watched him on tape in those preseason games and made a note: If we have a chance, let's get this kid. In fact, General Manager Howie Roseman walked up to me prior to that Washington game and predicted that "Colt will make plays on special teams tonight. You watch him."
And he did. Made 'em time and time again. Got down the field and somehow was the first man in, which is remarkable because he is neither fast nor particularly strong and you wonder how in the heck he does it time and time again.
"This is a dream come true for me. I've worked hard for the chance to make a roster and have an opportunity to get on the field and play," he said. "I'm sure there are some guys who have said, 'Who is that small, unathletic white guy? He can't play.' But none of that matters to me. That's not how I have looked at myself. I'm going to go out there and play as hard as I can. For guys like me, it's about catching a break and then taking advantage when you get the chance to play. You know you aren't going to get a lot of chances. You have to produce every time you are on the field."
As you might imagine, Anderson's life has been turned upside down. He has been inundated with notes of congratulations from his family and friends and -- note to all of you who have not heard back from him -- he has just not had a lot of time to get back to everybody. Life moves quickly in the bigs. Anderson is here because the Eagles liked what they saw from him on tape in the preseason and because he has been a go-to man in kick coverage.
"I've gotten a lot of texts, a lot of emails and everybody has been so supportive," said Anderson, his hair pulled back in a ponytail, a smile on his face. "It's been great. But I don't let my guard down. You take it one day at a time here.
"I've always prided myself in working hard and in putting in extra work. I don't know I'm here, why it's me. I've been blessed. I'm going to take advantage of it. I'm a football player who makes plays. That's the way it has always been for me."
Anderson lives about a mile from the NovaCare Complex. He has immersed himself in his profession, in his chance to succeed at the highest level. There is not one ounce of "Who is he?" in the Eagles locker room, because everyone has seen how Anderson fits in.
It doesn't matter how big a player may be, or how he measures up the vital statistics or how he looks in a uniform. Anderson belongs because he has helped the Eagles win.
"Tons of heart, tough kid and someone who goes down the field and gets it done," says special teams coordinator Bobby April. "I don't care about any of that other stuff. He gets to the football. That is the name of the game."
It has been, then, a whirlwind month for Anderson, The Little Player That Could. The Eagles called, he answered, and before he knew it Anderson was on a plane bound for Philadelphia and an uncertain future.
"I remember how I felt," he said. "I was really nervous. I remember sitting next to a Philadelphia lady about what Philly is about and I remember thinking that not only am I going to a new team, I'm going to a new city and I have to learn my way around. I was definitely nervous. I still don't know my way around. Home and work, that's about it."
That is all he needs to know. Anderson has greater dreams, higher goals. He wants to start as a safety in the league. He wants to make his mark. One step at a time, though. The Eagles needed someone to step up on special teams and Anderson was the guy. Sometimes, the best surprises come in the smallest packages and while Anderson measures up just fine to you and me, well, he isn't the prototype here.
"He's a football player," says April. "You measure a football player by the plays he makes, and Colt has made plenty of them here."
NEWS, NOTES AND A LITTLE BIT OF THIS AND THAT
I am not ruling out Asante Samuel quite yet, but the fact that he was downgraded on Thursday -- he had limited activity on Wednesday and none on Thursday -- is not a positive sign for him playing at Dallas. We shall see how he progresses through the weekend. This will truly be a game-day decision.
- Dallas has injury concerns of its own, with starting safety Gerald Sensabaugh unable to practice on Thursday along with nickel cornerback Orlando Sandrick. Friday is such a key day. And maybe the fact that the game is on Sunday night gives the players a few more hours to recover.
- The Eagles lead the league with 400.7 total yards of offense per game, but doesn't it seem like this group could produce a whole lot more once it puts everything together? The sky is the limit, as they say. Great test against a Dallas defense that dominated the Eagles in three games last season.
- An indication of how the Eagles could really be better than 8-4 this season: They have had the lead for 415 minutes, 20 seconds, and have trailed for 193 minutes, 27 seconds. They have lead 57.7 percent of the time. On second thought ....
- The Eagles have given up 27 first downs this season because of penalty and have gained 11 first downs because of opponents' penalties. That is a key stat to look at for Sunday night.