PHILADELPHIA-Eagles free safety Nate Allen swatted away quarterback Michael Vick's pass over the middle during last week's practice at the NovaCare Complex, producing cheers from the rest of the defense.
Strong safety Kurt Coleman immediately rushed up to Allen and the two broke out a choreographed celebration that rivaled Green Bay wide receiver Donald Driver's winning routine on "Dancing With the Stars."
They exchanged some low-fives and some high-fives, a flying hip bump, then capped it off by snapping their fingers while waving their hands.
"I developed it after watching some episodes of 'Fresh Prince of Bel Air,' " Coleman said. "I grew up watching the show and used to see Fresh Prince (Philadelphia native Will Smith) and D.J. Jazzy Jeff do stuff like that all the time. I know Will's from here, so I wanted to do something that would bring a little bit of Philly into it."
Allen and Coleman are hoping to treat Eagles fans to the routine a lot this season. After enduring trying seasons in 2011, they entered the team's organized team activities (OTAs) determined to recapture the promise both showed as rookies in 2010.
Allen, a second-round draft pick, played well as a rookie before suffering a ruptured patellar tendon in his right knee in the 14th game. The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder was slow to rebound from the injury last season. He lost his starting job to Jarrad Page in training camp before finally regaining it in the fourth week. Allen finished last season with 76 tackles and two interceptions.
Coleman, a seventh-round pick, was benched for two games last season after missing some key tackles against the New York Giants early in the season. Three games later, he returned to the starting lineup and produced a career-high three interceptions at Washington. He added another interception at Miami before tearing a tendon in his left biceps in the next-to-last game.
"I feel a lot better physically and obviously mentally," Coleman said. "Going through adversity like that builds character and really makes you figure out who you are as a person and as a team."
Allen and Coleman have a strong bond, which was evident last week. They entered the OTAs as starters ahead of second-year safety Jaiquawn Jarrett and performed as if they are intent on staying in the lineup. Almost every key defensive play during the Eagles' three-day session featured Allen or Coleman.
There were a few occasions on which they spotted something in the Eagles' offense and made adjustments just before the snap.
"Kurt and I have chemistry," Allen said. "A lot of times we can just look at each other and make eye contact and know what to do back there. I think the fact that we're good friends has something to do with it."
They first met during the Senior Bowl after the 2009 season, though Allen (South Florida) and Coleman (Ohio State) were on opposite teams. Upon getting drafted by the Eagles, they roomed together at the post-draft rookie symposium and discovered they had a lot in common.
Allen and Coleman also room together during training camp at Lehigh University and during regular-season road trips.
They were on a road trip late last season when Coleman came up with their celebration routine.
"We were brainstorming one day and Kurt put it together," Allen said. "We actually started practicing different moves and then we got to this one and I said, 'I like it. This is the one.' Hopefully, we'll get a chance to use it quite a bit."
Extra points: The Eagles will hold a second session of OTAs today through Friday at the NovaCare Complex. All workouts are closed to the public. Coach Andy Reid indicated last week that defensive end Jason Babin will attend the voluntary workouts today. Babin missed last week while on a hunting trip in Alaska.
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