Eagles S Allen: ‘I’m ready to do whatever they need me to do’

Nate Allen could start as a rookie, but he’ll have to earn it. The Eagles took the former South Florida standout with the 37th overall selection, one of the picks they received from Washington in the Donovan McNabb trade. Allen will battle Marlin Jackson for a starting spot during OTAs, training camp and the preseason.

The biggest question is whether Allen can be a viable long-term replacement for Brian Dawkins, who was sorely missed last season after he left the Eagles to sign with the Broncos. Sporting News’ Clifton Brown caught up with Allen recently to talk about what lies ahead.

Clifton Brown: Do you think you’re where you need to be at this stage of OTAs?

Nate Allen: I’ve got a lot more to learn. I’m still getting a feel for the basic stuff, just trying to get with the coaches and learn.

SN: Because the Eagles blitz frequently, do you feel this will be a fun system for you?

NA: Definitely. It gives you the opportunity to play fast once you learn it. You should be able to make a lot of plays. You can be aggressive. You don’t have to be conservative and sit back.

Nate Allen has a shot at a starting spot as a rookie with the Eagles.
Nate Allen has a shot at a starting spot as a rookie with the Eagles.

SN: How do you feel about coming to a place where you could start immediately?

NA: I’m excited. Whatever role that might be, I’m ready to do whatever they need me to do. Come in and try to make plays, help the team win. I have to come in and compete. I’m not going to say I’m going to start. I have no idea. Whatever happens will happen. (I’ll) try to let my performance handle all that.

SN: You were a high school quarterback. Does that help you at all playing safety?

NA: It helps a little bit. But the jump from being a high school quarterback to college is big. It helps a little bit because you have a feel for what the quarterback might be thinking, what their progressions are. But it’s a whole new level now.

SN: You’ve been labeled as a safety with good ball skills, but not the best tackler. Is that a fair assessment?

NA: It doesn’t matter. I’ll just let my play do the talking.

SN: Did it bother you to hear that you were not a good tackler during the draft process?

NA: I really didn’t watch all that draft stuff, the mock and whatnot. That’s what people say? Try to prove them wrong. Don’t worry about it and just play. Being a safety, you’ve got to come up and tackle, and I definitely feel I don’t have a problem. I’m not afraid to get down in the box and tackle.

SN: You were not able to run at the Combine due to a quadriceps injury. How is that progressing?

NA: It feels 100 percent now.

SN: How different is this defense than the one you played in at South Florida?

NA: It’s a lot more diverse. We played a cover 3, zone. I never played nickel. This has a lot more checks and audibles.

SN: Playing in a defense that blitzes frequently could leave you in one-on-one coverage. Are you comfortable with that?

NA: Yeah. That’s part of being in the secondary, especially nowadays in the NFL. Safeties are cover guys. It’s something you have to be able to do.

SN: You are part of a new era for the Eagles, trying to replace Dawkins and being part of the McNabb trade. How do you feel about that?

NA: Everyone keeps talking about Donovan, but I’m going to come in and be myself, play my game.

SN: How do you feel about coming to a team that has usually made the playoffs over the past 10 years?

NA: I’m excited. My goal, and I’m sure all the rest of the guys, the coaches, and the fans, is to win a Super Bowl. I know we have a good chance of doing that this year.

Clifton Brown is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at cliftonbrown@sportingnews.com.

Nate Allen could start as a rookie, but he’ll have to earn it. The Eagles took the former South Florida standout with the 37th overall selection, one of the picks they received from Washington in the Donovan McNabb trade. Allen will battle Marlin Jackson for a starting spot during OTAs, training camp and the preseason.

The biggest question is whether Allen can be a viable long-term replacement for Brian Dawkins, who was sorely missed last season after he left the Eagles to sign with the Broncos. Sporting News’ Clifton Brown caught up with Allen recently to talk about what lies ahead.

Clifton Brown: Do you think you’re where you need to be at this stage of OTAs?

Nate Allen: I’ve got a lot more to learn. I’m still getting a feel for the basic stuff, just trying to get with the coaches and learn.

SN: Because the Eagles blitz frequently, do you feel this will be a fun system for you?

NA: Definitely. It gives you the opportunity to play fast once you learn it. You should be able to make a lot of plays. You can be aggressive. You don’t have to be conservative and sit back.

Nate Allen has a shot at a starting spot as a rookie with the Eagles.
Nate Allen has a shot at a starting spot as a rookie with the Eagles.

SN: How do you feel about coming to a place where you could start immediately?

NA: I’m excited. Whatever role that might be, I’m ready to do whatever they need me to do. Come in and try to make plays, help the team win. I have to come in and compete. I’m not going to say I’m going to start. I have no idea. Whatever happens will happen. (I’ll) try to let my performance handle all that.

SN: You were a high school quarterback. Does that help you at all playing safety?

NA: It helps a little bit. But the jump from being a high school quarterback to college is big. It helps a little bit because you have a feel for what the quarterback might be thinking, what their progressions are. But it’s a whole new level now.

SN: You’ve been labeled as a safety with good ball skills, but not the best tackler. Is that a fair assessment?

NA: It doesn’t matter. I’ll just let my play do the talking.

SN: Did it bother you to hear that you were not a good tackler during the draft process?

NA: I really didn’t watch all that draft stuff, the mock and whatnot. That’s what people say? Try to prove them wrong. Don’t worry about it and just play. Being a safety, you’ve got to come up and tackle, and I definitely feel I don’t have a problem. I’m not afraid to get down in the box and tackle.

SN: You were not able to run at the Combine due to a quadriceps injury. How is that progressing?

NA: It feels 100 percent now.

SN: How different is this defense than the one you played in at South Florida?

NA: It’s a lot more diverse. We played a cover 3, zone. I never played nickel. This has a lot more checks and audibles.

SN: Playing in a defense that blitzes frequently could leave you in one-on-one coverage. Are you comfortable with that?

NA: Yeah. That’s part of being in the secondary, especially nowadays in the NFL. Safeties are cover guys. It’s something you have to be able to do.

SN: You are part of a new era for the Eagles, trying to replace Dawkins and being part of the McNabb trade. How do you feel about that?

NA: Everyone keeps talking about Donovan, but I’m going to come in and be myself, play my game.

SN: How do you feel about coming to a team that has usually made the playoffs over the past 10 years?

NA: I’m excited. My goal, and I’m sure all the rest of the guys, the coaches, and the fans, is to win a Super Bowl. I know we have a good chance of doing that this year.

Clifton Brown is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at cliftonbrown@sportingnews.com.

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