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Eagles offer intriguing flexibility in secondary

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Posted May 22, 2010 @ 4:41 p.m. ET
By Eric Edholm

One of the themes of the Eagles this offseason has been change. But not just the change at quarterback. There has been an emphasis, especially on defense, with position flexibility. Defensive ends are playing linebacker, and vice versa. Corners are playing safety, and safeties are playing corner.

It's in the secondary where there is some real intrigue about who will end up playing where, when the chips are all settled. Quintin Mikell, despite a tough season in 2009, likely will be the starting strong safety. And despite some tension between Asante Samuel and the team over his tackling and freelancing, you can bet he'll open the season as the starting left cornerback.

But the other spots are up for grabs. Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott appears to not only like his depth in the secondary, but also his package-specific options. For instance, he noted he could use Macho Harris, who played free safety as a rookie, as a cornerback, which was his college position.

Harris' move makes some sense. With the trade of Sheldon Brown, the CB depth is thin, especially with Ellis Hobbs coming off neck surgery. Although Harris believes the move back to his old CB spot to be permanent, there he was, filling in at free safety when rookie Nate Allen sat out an OTA practice with a minor injury.

Allen is expected to play at free safety as he did at South Florida, but head coach Andy Reid said following the draft he thought Allen had the ability to play cornerback. It likely will be a wait-and-see deal, much as it was with Harris, who was moved full time to safety in training camp last season.

There's also Marlin Jackson. Eagles GM Howie Roseman said Jackson would be a free safety after signing him, but there are other possibilities, as well. Jackson appears ideally suited for a situational role, McDermott said, as a nickel back who is used primarily in a LB-type role, inside the hashes and closer to the line of scrimmage.

Throw a matured Quintin Demps into the circus, and the secondary is chock full of compelling, though hardly proven, parts.


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