DETROIT - SEPTEMBER 19: Joselio Hanson #21 and Nate Allen #29 of the Philadelphia Eagles celebrates after stoping the Detroit Lions on a fourth down play late in the game at Ford Field on September 19 2010 in Detroit Michigan. The Eagles defeated the Lions 35-32. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Soon after Nate Allen was carted off the field during the Eagles' epic comeback victory against the Giants, it became official. The Eagles had lost their top two 2010 draft picks to season-ending injuries (watch your back, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim). Following in the footsteps of Brandon Graham's ACL from the previous week, Allen's platella tendon ruptured, knocking the rookie out for the remainder of the season.
Allen unfortunately adds to a growing list of defensive starters that have been sidelined for a significant period of time. The losses of Ellis Hobbs (neck) and Brandon Graham (ACL) for the year and Stewart Bradley (elbow) and Asante Samuel (MCL) for several weeks have certainly been felt by the Eagles defense, which currently ranks 21st overall in points allowed per game (24.2) and dead last at stopping opponents inside the redzone.
However, there are a few bright spots as the team heads down the finishing stretch of the regular season. Rookie Jamar Chaney has filled in nicely for Stewart Bradley at middle linebacker so far, forcing a critical fumble on Mario Manningham yesterday that led to one of Jeremy Maclin's two touchdowns. Juqua Parker and Darryl Tapp have more than adequately filled the hole left by Brandon Graham, combining for eight sacks so far this season.
Now, the question remains, how to replace Nate Allen? Sean McDermott has already confirmed that seventh-round pick Kurt Coleman will be the starter for the remainder of the season. However, that leaves the defense with only three safeties, and while Colt Anderson has been an absolute beast on special teams, he didn't show much when on the field in seven-DB sets yesterday.
Could Allen's vacated roster spot be filled by someone on the practice squad? Don't count on it. The only secondary help the Eagles have there is ex-Cowboy cornerback Jamar Wall, and there are already six active CBs on the roster thanks to the recent acquisition of ex-Giant Brandon Hughes. No, the Eagles need a veteran presence to counteract the inexperience of their two rookies. Ex-Eagles Macho Harris, Quintin Demps, have already been snapped up by the Redskins, Texans and Rams, respectively, so that leaves slim pickings in the free agent market. The Eagles worked out four-year veteran Jamaal Fudge earlier this season though, and he remains an available option. Who do you think the front office should target?