"Definitely," Asomugha said when asked if he'd been scared. "It's a fluke thing, but it's never really happened before. Just to go down and feel all that [pain] come down the neck. I was able to move; I rolled around on the floor, that was the first thing I did. Made sure my teeth were there. All that was fine. But it was scary at first."
Asomugha said he has endured similar hits in his nine NFL seasons, but "I've seen 'em coming." He said he had no idea he was about to slam into Allen.
Asomugha said if Monday's game had been scheduled several days earlier, he might not have felt comfortable about playing, but he is confident now that he is not risking injury.
Eagles coach Andy Reid said he had no reservations, since the team was satisfied Asomugha did not suffer a concussion, and X-rays were negative.
"He just had a spasm in his [upper] back area and it was just a matter of making sure that we got that calmed down," Reid said.
Asomugha and the other members of the Eagles' first-team defense have a lot to establish against the Patriots, after looking extremely pliable against the Steelers early in the preseason opener. The narrative coming into training camp was that with Asante Samuel exiled to Atlanta, Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie would each take a side and play man-to-man against receivers. But it hasn't been that simple; the Eagles still use multiple coverages, like most teams, and in the dime package, Asomugha works inside, where he had never ventured before coming to the Eagles last season.
"[Man coverage] has its time and its place. I did it for 8 years in Oakland, either took a guy or took a side and just played man. But Juan [Castillo, the Eagles' defensive coordinator] has a different type of scheme than what Al Davis had," Asomugha said. "We'll be doing some different things. There are times when we'll go to certain guys and we'll match up, whether it's a [wide] receiver or a tight end. But it's not going to be like that the whole time. There's a scheme around this defense."
Playing inside is less of a mystery to Asomugha this time around, he said, largely because of the offseason addition of secondary coach Todd Bowles.
"He's helped me out a lot with my inside game," Asomugha said. "Last year, that was completely new to me, playing dime, playing nickel . . . You get inside and if you don't know what you're doing you just think, 'Oh, hell, let me just play man,' but when you have a complex defense, there's different things you have to read. You have to read linemen. You have to read the quarterback. You have to read the backs. Then you have to read the [receiver] that's inside. He's kind of given me a crash course on that, some things that I went through the whole season last year not even knowing. They're just the basic things.
"It's good to have him here, a guy that's familiar with putting guys inside, especially a taller guy inside; that's a little out of the ordinary, to have a taller guy go inside."
Joselio Hanson is the Eagles'corner who knows the most about playing inside. Though many fans would like to see Asomugha exclusively outside, Hanson said, "If he can match up, maybe we should match up, on certain people [lined up inside]."
Hanson said everyone is benefiting from Bowles' knowledge of situational play.
"He's really technical when it comes to formation recognition, trying to know what's coming before it hits us. He's good at that stuff," Hanson said.
Ryans says he's comfy
In the preseason opener, it didn't seem that new middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans was reacting instinctively, though, of course, the Eagles did no real scheme preparation for the Steelers. Ryans said this weekend that he is confident he knows the defense inside and out, and he isn't being hamstrung by indecision.
"I have the defense down," Ryans said. "I know where I'm supposed to be and what to do. I'm not worried about it."
That was a little stronger than what Andy Reid said Saturday when asked about Ryans.
"Every day he gets a little more familiar with the defense and you see him playing faster," Reid said. "You see him getting off blocks faster."
Andy Reid said defensive end Jason Babin (calf), wide receiver Riley Cooper (collarbone), linebacker Casey Matthews (ankle) and quarterback Mike Kafka (hand) will sit out the New England game. Starters are scheduled to play into the third quarter; how far into probably depends on how they're playing . . . Reid was asked about the replacement refs, as the NFL feuds with its regular officials over money. As is often the case, Reid seemed wary of inviting controversy. "They're busting their tail just to get caught up on the speed of our game and so on, and so they're working hard," he said. "They came up and visited us [at Lehigh] and I can just tell you, they're trying their hearts out. Whatever situation goes on, it goes on. This is what it is right now, so we go with it and appreciate their effort."
Contact Les Bowen at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @LesBowen. For more Eagles coverage and opinion, read his blog at eagletarian.com.