The big news from practice was rookie Nate Allen getting the vast majority of reps alongside Quintin Mikell at safety with the first-team defense. Allen was also pulling double-duty as a third-team safety because there are only five safeties present with Macho Harris working at cornerback and Kurt Coleman still waiting for his Ohio State class to graduate - Coleman will join the team on June 8, allowing him to participate in two practices.
"I still have a ways to go," said Allen about cementing himself as a rookie starter, "I just need to get in the playbook and learn as much as I can because that's the main thing, the mental part right now. Getting that down will allow me to play fast."
Allen's eagerness to learn the defense has impressed Mikell, who says that while he feels for Marlin Jackson, the more time he has to work on his chemistry with Allen the better.
"It's an opportunity for us to gel, for us to kind of learn each other and learn where each other's going to be," Mikell said. "That's why it's a sad thing that Marlin went down, but I guess the only good thing that can come out of it is now I know who will be next to me and I can work with him and we won't have to worry about any changes. We'll go with Nate and move on.
"One of the things that I respected the most about him was he came right in at the first meeting and he sat right next to me and that started it off. That's the chemistry part of it. We're sitting right next to each other and if there's something I have to tell him then I tell him. If he has a question then I can answer questions for him and that's a good start right there. He's got a good mentality."
While Allen surely still has a lot to prove, Mikell says that the rookie deserves his chance to shine.
"He's earned the job," said Mikell. "He played well in college, he got drafted (in the second round) and he earned his position just like anyone else. Now, obviously he has to earn his stripes on the field, but he earned the opportunity to start and he's going to do it ... He's going to step in and we're going to go start to finish with him, that's my hope. Like I said before, he's going to have some struggles; this defense is tough, but we're going to stick with him and he's going to get better and better and better."
Other news and notes from the second day of practice ...
- Linebacker Stewart Bradley left practice with a tweaked calf. The injury is not considered serious. Bradley was replaced in team drills by Akeem Jordan as the nickel linebacker alongside Ernie Sims.
- Joselio Hanson was one of the players who shined on the day, displaying solid man-to-man cover skills in the one-on-one drills between receivers and defensive backs. Hanson also picked off a Kevin Kolb pass during the 11-on-11 drills that was intended for DeSean Jackson. Hanson is competing for playing time at right cornerback and is also solidly entrenched as the first-team nickel back.
- The defense almost had another interception on the play immediately following Hanson's interception when a pressured Michael Vick tossed a short pass over the middle that was nearly picked by middle linebacker Joe Mays.
- Rookie linebacker Jamar Chaney did hang on to his interception opportunity on what might have been the play of the day. Rookie tight end Clay Harbor made a valiant diving attempt to catch a Mike Kafka pass near the sideline, but the ball popped up and Chaney, who was trailing the play, scooped it up before it fell to the ground.
- With Herremans absent, Max Jean-Gilles worked as the first-team left guard. Jean-Gilles was joined by, from left to right, Jason Peters, Nick Cole, Stacy Andrews and Winston Justice. Behind them on the second team were, again in order, Austin Howard, Fenuki Tupou, Mike McGlynn, Dallas Reynolds and King Dunlap.
- Two more rookies showed flashes as Trevard Lindley had a couple pass breakups, one during the one-on-one drills and one during the seven-on-sevens. Meanwhile, wide receiver Riley Cooper continued to show good, strong hands, especially in traffic.
- The most explosive play of the day came, as expected, from Jackson. During the seven-on-seven drills, the offense lined up in a tight formation but Jackson got beyond Asante Samuel and the secondary and was hit perfectly in stride by Kolb about 45 yards down field for a would-be touchdown.
- Jackson's partner in crime at wide receiver Jeremy Maclin also had an impressive catch, this time during the one-on-one drills. Macho Harris blanketed Maclin fairly well down the field, but Maclin rose above Harris for the jump ball deep down the field and hauled in the catch with strong hands of his own.