LIFE IS BETTER for Eagles safeties now that the defensive line is no longer charging blindly upfield. Kurt Coleman would very much like to get a chance to play in the defense the Birds have now, after spending 12 weeks getting his body and psyche battered behind the wide-nine alignment.

But as Eagles coach Andy Reid noted Friday, Colt Anderson played well in a two-game fill-in for Coleman, while Coleman was sidelined with a bruised sternum. Now Coleman is back, but Reid said Anderson has earned consideration as a starter, either for Coleman or the other safety, Nate Allen. Reid said Monday evening he hasn't decided which safety Anderson might replace.

At Monday's brief practice, Coleman said "everyone was getting some solid reps" with the starters. "We'll see what the coaches want to do, going forward."

Coleman said last Thursday against Cincinnati, "I was on the sideline getting excited" about playing in the new setup. "It's a whole different defense. Everyone's starting to just do their job and play well together. It's exciting; I want to get in there and get a piece of it.

"I'm confident in my abilities. I'm going to continue to just do my part . . . help lead, and whenever it's my time, it's my time. That's all I can do."

Coleman isn't disputing the strong play of Anderson, who previously was considered a special-teams specialist.

"Colt's been playing well in these last two games," Coleman said. "He's around the ball a lot. Every play that he had to make something, he did it. I'm happy for what he's been doing, in a short time of playing . . . I'm proud of him, I'm happy for him, and I want to see him continue to succeed."

The difference in the defense, Coleman said, is "just a more sound front seven. It's allowing those guys to stick to their gaps. Offensive lines or offensive schemes can't just game-plan knowing where our defensive ends are going to be."

Before Jim Washburn was dismissed as defensive line coach 2 weeks ago, the Eagles' d-line rarely stunted or changed its look; Washburn believed in going in a straight line to the quarterback.

"I wish Coach Wash the best; he's a great coach, a great man," Coleman said. "These guys are really enjoying this new scheme that they've got" under the tutelage of Tommy Brasher. Coleman said that for the safeties, "it's a little more true defense. When you're not asked to fill holes as fast, you can be a little more patient" with such things as play action. "It's helping everyone, all around."

Coleman noted that defensive end Brandon Graham, whose playing time has increased dramatically, "is feeding off it. He's looked phenomenal these past two games."

Graham has four sacks in the last three games, since the Birds cut Jason Babin to get him more reps. He played a season-high 52 snaps against the Bengals.

"Fifty-two was cool," Graham said, when asked how he felt Monday. "I think I could hold up for this all year."


Andy Reid said on his Sportsradio 94WIP show that running back LeSean McCoy, who has missed four games due to a concussion, has been cleared to play and could see action Sunday against the Redskins . . . Reid also said fullback Stanley Havili (hamstring) did not practice Monday and would struggle to play this week. Reid said tight end Clay Harbor (back) also did not practice, so it could be a busy week for rookie FB/TE Emil Igwenagu, who made his NFL debut last Thursday against the Bengals . . . Asked what he remembers about the last meeting with the Redskins, that 31-6 trouncing in Nick Foles' first start on Nov. 18, Eagles corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said: "Fourteen-for-15," which was Robert Griffin III's passing line.