Eagles end preseason with a loss

Posted: September 03, 2010

Ask defensive coordinator Sean McDermott what a player has to do to impress, and he has a simple answer: make big plays.

Kurt Coleman did that Thursday night to add a jolt of energy to an otherwise forgettable preseason finale. Coleman, the Eagles rookie safety who scored one touchdown in his college career at Ohio State, took two fumbles back to the end zone Thursday night.

In his last opportunity to make an impact before the real season begins, Coleman stood out in a game contested by second and third stringers for both the Eagles and Jets. Coleman, a seventh-round draft pick, the last of 13 players the Eagles selected in April, had four tackles and an assist and accounted for nearly all of his team's scoring as the Eagles lost 21-17.

"Those two fumbles, I just had to make the most of the opportunity," Coleman said. It was his first two-touchdown game since high school. His coach from Northmont High in Clayton, Ohio even texted: "back to high school days, huh?"

"I haven't had two touchdowns in a long, long time, so it was a good feeling," Coleman said.

Only one defender has scored two touchdowns off fumbles in the regular season: Fred "Dippy" Evans did it for the Bears in 1948. The NFL's record books don't track such statistics for the preseason.

The most prominent Eagle to play, backup quarterback Mike Vick, showed his familiar speed and had a few nice throws in one quarter of action. He led two drives, giving the Eagles a final look at their fall back option in case starter Kevin Kolb gets hurt. Vick, who started the game, led the Eagles to one field goal and a punt. He went three for five for 56 yards and ran twice for 11 yards.

"I felt like I got done what I needed to get done. . . . I played with confidence, threw the ball strong. I was going to all the right places, and I just let my vision work for me," Vick said.

The team's emergency third quarterback, rookie Mike Kafka, had an ugly night in his longest stint of the preseason. In three quarters, he was nine for 27 for 76 yards, threw and interception and had a 26.9 passer rating.

Coleman produced more offense than either quarterback. He grabbed a Joe McKnight fumble and ran it back 64 yards, blowing by quarterback Mark Brunell in what was never a fair contest: Coleman, a 22-year-old fresh out of college pulling away from the 39-year-old veteran entering his 18th NFL season.

"As soon as I saw it was him, I kind of coasted," Coleman said, adding that the team had just worked on scooping up loose balls this week.

Coleman added an 8-yard score late in the second quarter. Fullback John Conner fumbled on the play, and the ball popped to Coleman. He said linebacker Moise Fokou jokingly called for a lateral on the play, "but I said, 'I can't do that.' "

The play gave the safety one more preseason touchdown than the Eagles' first team offense.

It was a strong preseason wrapup for a rookie who impressed coaches in his very first training camp practice, putting a shoulder to running back Martell Mallett to break up a would-be touchdown in Lehigh back in late July.

With starters resting, Thursday's game mostly gave Eagles on the fringes of the roster a last opportunity to impress coaches before Saturday's cut-down day.

Fokou, who lost a starting linebacker job early in training camp, had eight tackles and two assists, while rookie linebacker Jamar Chaney, a seventh-round pick, added five tackles and an assist.

Defensive end Pannel Egboh, signed Tuesday, had a sack and forced fumble, and defensive tackle Boo Robinson had a sack and fumble recovery.

Still, both are on the edge of the roster and were likely playing their last games for the Eagles. Saturday is decision day.

Coleman, at least, can rest easy.

Contact staff writer Jonathan Tamari at 215-854-5214 or jtamari@phillynews.com.

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