Jul 292010

July 29 Philadelphia Daily News columnist John Smallwood

“It was late, and Tuesday night was about to turn into Wednesday morning.

Eagles rookie safety Nate Allen had finally arrived at Lehigh University for training camp, but he had nowhere to go.

The final details of his contract were still being hammered out, and by NFL rule, Allen wasn’t allowed to participate in any part of official practice until all the documents were signed – even sleeping in his assigned dormitory room.

“I couldn’t get into my room until I signed, so I was just sitting in this little living room of one of the dorms across campus,” Allen said yesterday after his first practice in training camp. “Oh yeah, [his roommates, cornerback Trevard Lindley and safety Kurt Coleman] were knocked out because I didn’t get into my room until about 2:30 a.m. So, it was a late night.”

It quickly became a short night because Allen barely had time to catch a couple of hours of sleep before the Eagles’ rookies and selected veterans had to report to the field for morning practice.

It was the first day of what should be an interesting training camp for Allen and the Eagles.

Of all the first-year players the Eagles bring into training camp, Allen was the one who could least afford to miss any practices.

Although head coach Andy Reid wants defensive end Brandon Graham, who like virtually all of this year’s first-round draft picks remains unsigned, in camp, his absence won’t start to be a problem unless it drags beyond today, when the veterans report to camp for Saturday’s first full-team practice.

Allen, however, knew it was bad for him to miss even the first day of training camp.

Drafted in the second round out of the University of South Florida with the pick the Eagles acquired from the Washington Redskins in exchange for Donovan McNabb, Allen is already penciled in as the Eagles’ starting free safety.

Even McNabb wasn’t handed a starting spot on his first day of training camp.

And neither were wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, nor running back LeSean McCoy, nor linebacker Stewart Bradley.

In fact, you have to go back to 2000 and defensive tackle Corey Simon to find an Eagles rookie who was penciled in as a starter on the first day of camp.”

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