Bethlehem, Pa – After a Wednesday morning practice session that saw full contact drills and 11-on-11 scrimmages, the afternoon session saw Eagles’ team members work on special teams play while using non-contact drills.
Following the afternoon practice at Eagles training camp at Lehigh University, Nate Allen, the second-round pick from South Florida University responded to questions regarding his feelings on draft day, his thoughts on playing in Philadelphia and his goals for the remainder of the offseason.
When asked if his ultimate goal was to be number-one on the depth chart in the safety position when the 2010 regular season begins, Allen said: “It’s definitely my goal to be the number-one safety, but I’m just thinking about learning the playbook first and just getting on the field and making the plays wherever I can.”
On the difference in workout regiments and practices from college to the pros, Allen said: “I feel good as far as running and condition, but it’s mostly going to be different. This is the NFL and these are the top guys. Everybody is faster and everybody is stronger here. There is no comparison to the NFL at all.”
On his initial reaction and feelings after finding out he was drafted by the Eagles, along with his personal expectations for the season, Allen said: “It was pure excitement. I was ready to get going right away. This is a dream for me. I’m excited to be in Philadelphia and I’m excited to get the season going. For me, I will never be satisfied with my game because I’m never perfect. Every little mistake bothers me. I don’t like to make mistakes, but I know they’re inevitable and they’re going to be there, but the attitude you have to have is to never be satisfied with yourself.”
After a morning practice session that saw Eagles’ veteran kicker David Akers connect on all nine field goals that he attempted, the four-time Pro Bowler and 12th-year Eagle spent the afternoon practicing placekicks and working with the special teams’ coordinator.
Akers connected on five field goals inside of 40 yards, which he followed with kicks from 46, 49 and 52 yards out that all sailed through the uprights. Much to the pleasure of the large crowd in attendance, Akers nailed two final 54-yard field goals, each of which had plenty of room to spare after sailing through the crossbars.
“I don’t think I’m getting stronger,” Akers said. “I don’t feel weaker than I did last year either, but it’s just all about getting your timing down and hitting them when it counts. A lot of it is technique and a lot of it confidence, but you have to have the technique to back up that confidence or it doesn’t matter. Going out and hitting kicks (like I did today) is what gives me confidence.”
Going into his 12th year with Philadelphia – a season in which he will be 36-years-old before the regular season concludes – the lefty kicker hopes and plans to play for as many more years as possible.
“I want to keep moving forward and showing people that I can play for several more years,” he said. “I plan on playing here for awhile or at least until they kick me out of here.”
Akers expects Eagles punter Sav Rocca to be his placeholder for a fourth consecutive year, while he also said that he expects veteran Jon Dorenbos to be his long-snapper.
“I would think that, unless they cut me, we’ll have the same combination (for kicking field goals) that we had last year,” Akers said. “I’m not one of those guys that says ‘this is what’s happening.’ If someone gets released or traded, it happens. You never can tell what happens, but going into the season, I assume it will be Jon snapping, Sav holding and myself kicking and that’s what I’m planning on right now and preparing for in camp.”
As the veteran kicker said, players get released or traded every day. The last two seasons have marked the departures of such veterans as safety Brian Dawkins, quarterback Donovan McNabb, running back Brian Westbrook and offensive lineman Tra Thomas.
Now, with McNabb playing for the Redskins and long-time Philadelphia Flyers forward Simon Gagne recently traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Akers stands as the longest-tenured professional athlete in the city of Philadelphia.
“I think it’s really cool that I’ve been here longer than anybody else,” Akers said. “I think it’s been a blessing that I’ve been here for a third of my life. I’ve had two kids born in the area and the Philadelphia fans and organization has changed my life. It’s been an unbelievable blessing. I know it might sound cliché, but coming from where I came from and struggling to make it in the NFL and to see where I am right now is pretty cool. It’s pretty great to look back on.”
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