In an attempt to find long term solutions at the position, the Eagles selected safeties in the second round of both the 2010 and 2011 drafts. While the 2010 pick Nate Allen seems poised for a breakout season, the 2011 pick, Jaiquawn Jarrett, failed to make an impact as a rookie and has some questioning whether he ever will.
Of course, Jarrett, like all rookies last season, was behind the 8 ball from the start. With no offseason to learn the playbook or familiarize himself with the system, Jarrett was playing catch up from the start. This year, he says the summer has helped him build a strong foundation.
"I have a much better base going into the season," Jarrett said. "Going into camps and OTAs meant a lot to me, helped me a lot. I was able to learn the system, learn the playbook and was able to go out there in OTAs and just have fun and play fast."
Andy Reid says that he's looking to see Jarrett show a command of the playbook, which should help the game slow down for him.
"The one thing you know about Jaiquawn coming out is that he's a tremendous hitter," said Reid. "He had very good instincts. I want to see those things. I want to see now that he understands the defense, and normally when you understand something, it slow things down a little bit and then your strengths show. He's a guy who really pushed through the offseason and I thought he was very aggressive with himself both mentally and physically to get himself right for this. Now it's time for all of that to show."
Jarrett is going to have to show it over veteran O.J. Atogwe, who the Eagles signed a few weeks ago to provide competition and depth at safety. While Jarrett says he welcomes the competition, he also welcomes the advice and mentoring Atogwe has provided so far.
"He's still a veteran. As much as he's learning the playbook, he's still helping me out, teaching me how to become a pro and what to do, what to look for when I'm out at practice, even during walkthrough."
As for whether he's feeling the pressure to prove himself this season? You better bet he does.
"There's always pressure. If you're not feeling pressure, then something's not right. So you've always got to deal with pressure and with the mentality to get better and continue to get better every day."