Nate Allen admitted Monday what we all saw Thursday.
Hes just not all the way back yet.
Allen, who underwent surgery in December to repair a ruptured patellar tendon in his left knee, struggled Thursday night in the Eagles preseason loss to the Steelers and said after practice Monday that hes not as close to 100 percent as he thought.
I maybe thought I was farther along than I am, Allen said. But Ive been going like Im 100 percent. Im maybe 90, 95 percent.
Allen said he and veteran Jarrad Page split practice time at strong safety with the starting defense Monday.
The Eagles face the Browns Thursday night at the Linc in the third preseason game of the summer, and Allen said he anticipates that Page will get some work with the starting defense.
Well be exchanging reps, Im sure, he said. Well take it for what it is. Ill play in the chances I get.
Page, a full-time starter with the Chiefs in 2007 and 2008, signed with the Eagles on Aug. 2. Hes the only safety on the roster whos older than 23 and has started more than one NFL game.
The coaches just gave me an opportunity to get out there and show what I can do, Page said after practice. Its tough when you join a team late and youre a little behind the 8-ball, (but) I felt like i did a good job picking up the concepts.
I feel like Ive picked up a majority it. Theres still some things I need to learn, but were all still picking things up.
Theres no question that Allen, the Eagles second-round pick last year, will start when hes back to 100 percent, but Pages work with the first defense Monday raises questions about when exactly that will be.
It was pretty sore today, but Im not going to make any excuses, Allen said. There are good days and bad days. It gets sore on me, but, hey, it is what it is. Youve got to work through it every day and get it back to where it needs to be.
The Steelers went after Allen Thursday night, picking on him repeatedly on the two long touchdown drives that gave Pittsburgh an early 14-0 lead on their way to a 24-14 win.
Allen said he doesnt have his explosion back.
I feel like my motion gets a little tight, and its hard to explode off of it, he said. I just have to get my quad back. My quad isnt totally developed to where it needs to be.
Allen enjoyed a terrific rookie year, becoming the first Eagle with at least two sacks and two interceptions in his first NFL season since Jerome Brown in 1987.
But he got hurt in the second Giants game the wild 38-31 comeback win and underwent surgery on Dec. 21.
That was only eight months ago. And Allen said the lockout didnt help, because his rehab wasnt overseen by the Eagles trainers and strength and conditioning guys.
There was probably a setback, a little bit, he said. But who knows?
Opening day against the Rams is only 20 days away. Not a lot of time for Allen to get back where he wants to be.
Ill be there, man, he said. Just got to keep working, and I feel like I will be.
If not, Page is a smart, physical, experienced veteran.
Im very thankful for the opportunity, said Page, who has 40 NFL starts in six seasons but is only 26. Im glad the Eagles wanted me to come here. There were a bunch of free agents out there, guys who werent drafted, three classes worth of guys who were already in the league and became unrestricted, so it was a grind.
I have plenty of friends who are still looking at jobs, so youve got to be thankful for the opportunity, and youve got to understand that and work hard because some people dont have it.
CSNPhilly.coms Dave Zangaro contributed to this story.E-mail Reuben Frank firstname.lastname@example.org.