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Eagles' strong defensive effort goes to waste
The Eagles took Earl Wolff in the fifth round of April's draft. (USA Today Images)
Each week throughout the season I answer Eagles questions from my Twitter timeline and e-mail. This week, not surprisingly, several questions took aim at the safety position, in particular the free safety jockeying between Nate Allen and rookie Earl Wolff.
Q. Why not let [Earl Wolff] play? He will eventually be the safety anyway -- he can't be worse than Nate Allen! What do you think? - Albert Stankavage
A. You’re right, Albert. Wolff will eventually supplant Nate Allen for the strong safety job, but jobs aren’t handed to fifth-round picks in their first month. They must be earned. Wolff is still making his share of mistakes, which is OK because he lacks the experience and seasoning of his veteran teammates. The coaches are trying to groom and develop Wolff, not rush him into a situation he’s not yet ready to handle, especially with their first three games in an 11-day span. It’s about putting a player in the best position to succeed. I know it’s tough for Eagles fans to think long term, but that’s the plan for Wolff, and the coaches are sticking to it. I would think you’ll see him starting sometime in October.
Q. Geoff: Do you know if Howie Roseman has considered picking up safeties from some of the better defensive teams' practice squads? - Don Fasolo
A. Don, Roseman signed two safeties to the practice squad before the season -- Trenton Robinson, who spent last year with the 49ers, and Keelan Johnson, a rookie who went to camp with the Dolphins this season. Roseman and the scouting staff obviously liked these guys enough to sign them despite being with other teams previously, so he’s already armed himself with some potential roster candidates. The problem is, practice squad guys spend most of their time running the opponent’s plays on the scout team. It generally takes them longer to acclimate to the system, especially when they come from another organization. They haven’t been learning Billy Davis’ defense since April like most of their other teammates. As the season progresses and injuries mount, it’s possible one or both will get the call-up to the 53-man roster.
Q. Can the Eagles turn Kendricks into a safety? Is he fast enough? - @Madgmers2010
A. Could they? To borrow a line from Chip, sure, they can do whatever they want. Will they? No. Usually, you turn slow safeties into linebackers, not fast linebackers into safeties. I realize the Eagles are ridiculously weak at safety but it makes no sense to take their best coverage linebacker and put him 15 yards away from scrimmage. Also, moving him would leave them severely crippled at one of the inside linebacker spots. Who’d replace him? Kendricks has plenty of room for improvement as it is in his own position. Moving him would make the Eagles weaker at two positions instead of upgrading one.
Send questions for next week’s mailbag to firstname.lastname@example.org or through Twitter (@GeoffMosherCSN).