It's tough for the defense to stand out in a non-contact practice, especially a rookie-laden defense going up against veteran passers like Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick. But one player on defense was able to stand out during the first practice of this year's training camp, seventh-round safety Kurt Coleman. After missing out on the Organized Team Activities because of Ohio State's late graduation date, perhaps Coleman just wanted to make sure the coaches and fans didn't forget about him.
Coleman is working at both safety spots, though he spent more time today at free safety, and he made his biggest impression on the final play of the red zone session of 7-on-7 drills. With the ball "snapped" at the 5-yard line, Michael Vick dropped back quickly and spotted running back Martell Mallet cutting back across the middle of the field. Vick then tossed it quickly to Mallett, who looked like he had a sure touchdown. Looked like one that is.
"They came out in what was a little tricky formation for us and we got the call at the last second from the corners and the linebackers and I just let the play sort out and I saw (Mallett) coming across the middle and decided to jump the play," Coleman said.
Coleman dislodged the ball from Mallett as he was crossing the goal line and, if the pads had been on, Mallett would have been on the ground.
"It would have been a nice hit if the pads were on," Coleman said.
The play showcased both Coleman's athletic ability and his command of the defense, which is especially impressive considering the time he missed in the spring - something that is not lost on defensive coordinator Sean McDermott.
"Kurt's a smart football player and he's handled himself extremely well," McDermott said after practice. "What he showed me today is that he's been working. He's worked with the coaches during the offseason. He's been very studious in the way he's approached the time when he was away from us.
"The way he handled himself out there this morning, you would have never known he was away for about a month which is to his credit."
Of Coleman's pass breakup at the goal line, McDermott added "that's playing Philadelphia defense right there."
Coleman acknowledged the difficulty of missing OTAs, but said that he did everything he could to keep up to speed.
"It really is just getting caught up in the playbook," said Coleman, who was visited by coaches Dick Jauron and Mike Zordich during their vacation. "The playbook is really very complicated and there are a lot of things that you want to see out here on the practice field that you don't get to see when you're just looking through the playbook. I was able to watch a lot of film and talk with the coaches and I think I'm getting caught up to speed."
As for where he fits in the big safety picture for this roster, Coleman feels that he's got a great chance to stake claim not only to a roster spot, but to playing time as well. Aside from Quintin Mikell, no one is guaranteed of anything in what is a young position group. Quintin Demps is the only other veteran at the position, though Macho Harris can certainly play there.
"We have Quintin Mikell at strong safety and seems to be that free safety's open," Coleman said. "We have a nickel spot open too. So there's a couple spots open for me to go and grab."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 1:36 p.m., July 27