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Stability Provides Allen Room For Growth

Posted Mar 17, 2014

In the past week, the Eagles have made a number of changes to the secondary.

On Tuesday, the first official day of free agency, the Eagles signed safety Malcolm Jenkins from the New Orleans Saints and released Patrick Chung after one season with the team. In the following days, the Eagles also added safety Chris Maragos and cornerback Nolan Carroll, two versatile players who will be competing for starting jobs. On Monday, the Eagles made another move to help bolster their secondary, and this time, the move involved a familiar face, as safety Nate Allen was re-signed to a one-year contract.

Shortly after inking his new deal, Allen explained that while other teams around the league were interested in his services, it was his comfort level with the Eagles that kept him in the nest.

“I’m just happy to be back here in a system that I’m comfortable in,” Allen said. “I’ve been in Philly for four years and it’s all a blessing. … I love the coaching staff and the players. We brought in a lot of new guys, and it’s going to be good. It’s going to be a fun year.”

Originally a second-round draft selection in 2010, Allen went through his share of growing pains during his first three years as a pro. In 2013, Allen had his best season in Eagles green, finishing third on the team with a career-best 94 tackles while also recording one interception to go along with one sack. Perhaps most importantly, Allen stayed healthy all season long, starting all 17 games that the Eagles played (including playoffs).

According to the 26-year-old Allen, there was something that clicked right away in his first season under defensive coordinator Bill Davis.

“It’s hard to put my finger on one thing, but it’s just that everything kind of came together last year,” Allen said. “We had good chemistry as a defense and as a secondary, and we have a good group of guys. I just felt comfortable in the scheme and I like the way that Coach Davis handles things and the way he teaches the defense. I love his play calling. He puts us in position to make a lot of plays. We’re going to tweak a few things and build on it from last year.”

Despite the fact that he is coming off of his best campaign to date, Allen knows that there are things that can be done to help him improve his game heading into 2014.

“I think I had a solid year last year, but there are a lot of things that I can improve on, as always, and I’m just going to try to get better this year and do whatever I can do to help the team win and just play ball,” Allen said. “I still have a lot to improve on - my eyes, you can always improve on tackling and just understanding the defense better.”

Safeties have been a hot commodity on the open market in this season’s free agency period. Many safeties signed multi-year deals, including Jenkins’ and Maragos’ deals with the Eagles. Allen, on the other hand, signed for just one year. The one-year deal is no more pressure than when he first entered the league playing in the shadow of Brian Dawkins.

“Pressure was there right when I came in because everybody was saying that, ‘You’ve got big shoes to fill and Brian Dawkins,’ but like I’ve said from day one, I’m not B-Dawk. He’s a future Hall of Famer. I’m going to be Nate and play my game, not put any more added pressure on me and just play football, because at the end of the day, that’s what it is,” Allen said. “It’s a game and it’s what I love to do, and I’m going to enjoy doing it.”

For the first time in Allen’s career, his immediate NFL future was up in the air. But the always level-headed safety kept his usual calm persona that he so often displays in the Eagles locker room, and he let the chips fall where they may. Now as the Eagles attempt to build upon last season’s run to the playoffs in 2014, Allen will be there for the ride.

“I don’t get involved in all of the free agent frenzy and all of that because you can drive yourself crazy trying to figure it all out,” Allen said. “I just kind of stepped back and let everything fall into place, and I knew that at the end of the day if it was meant for me to be here, then I’d be back.”

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