Eagles to start Allen, but Wolff will play too

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Eagles to start Allen, but Wolff will play too
September 4, 2013, 1:45 pm
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Nate Allen (left) will start Monday night against Washington, but expect rookie Earl Wolff to see playing time on defense too. (AP and USA Today Images)

The safety competition between Nate Allen and Earl Wolff isn’t over yet.
Eagles coach Chip Kelly on Wednesday said the veteran Allen would start alongside Patrick Chung for Monday night’s season opener against the Redskins, citing the fourth-year pro’s experience and preseason performance.
But Kelly said Wolff, the impressive rookie out of N.C. State who would embrace a 50-50 split of snaps at safety, would also see time on the defense.
“Yeah, Earl’s pushing,” Kelly said in his first press conference of the regular season. “Earl is pushing. And he’ll play. It’s just right now Nate is ahead of him.”
Wolff will play on special teams, but Kelly said the fifth-round pick will factor into the defense, and not just on sub packages or specific formations but also in the base.

"I'm not exactly sure," Wolff said of how much he'll play. "I'll be in a couple series, most likely in the first quarter. That's something I'm looking to take advantage of."
“We’ve just got to get him in a game,” Kelly added, “but it’s not a special package where we have an ‘Earl Wolff’ defense. He’s going to go out there and play safety.” 
Allen and Wolff each saw time with the first-team defense throughout the camps and the preseason. In last Thursday’s preseason finale, Allen and Wolff comprised the starting safety tandem against the Jets while Chung rested with the other obvious starters.
After the game, Kelly wouldn’t name an official starter. But after several days of cuts, roster changes and personnel evaluation, Kelly finally tabbed Allen, the 2010 second-round pick who will start the opener for the third time in four years. The Chung-Allen safety tandem will be the team’s fourth different pairing in the past four years.  
Kelly was asked what factors led to his decision to start Allen over Wolff. 
“Film evaluation, games played,” he answered, “production so far through the preseason, camp and OTAs.” 


  • Dennis Kelly, who had back surgery last month, is out for Monday’s game. In a good sign, Kelly wore a cap and jersey at practice Wednesday and warmed up with the team.
  • Fullback James Casey, who tweaked his hamstring in the preseason finale against the Jets, practiced.
  • Kelly had no update or recovery timetable for Brandon Hughes, who had surgery on his broken hand.
  • Tight end Emil Igwenagu changed his jersey from No. 41 to No. 82, the number formerly worn by Clay Harbor, whom Igwenagu outlasted for the fourth tight end spot.

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