In a peculiar move, Eagles coach Andy Reid announced that Kurt Coleman and Colt Anderson would start at the safety positions on Sunday ahead of Nate Allen.
Allen will work into the rotation, Reid added, but the switch was a clear demotion for the Eagles' 2010 second-round draft pick.
"I was all right with it," Allen said Wednesday. "You've got to be a professional about it and just go out there and continue to work and contribute and help the team out however you can."
A demotion this late in the season suggests the Eagles have given up on Allen. Reid was asked what the 25-year-old safety had to do to remain a starter in the NFL.
"The first thing was to stay healthy. He's been up and down with that," Reid said. "The other thing is just continue to get better. That's the primary thing - just keep taking steps forward."
Allen missed only one game this season, because of a hamstring injury. He has started in 38 games for the Eagles over the last three seasons. He suffered a season-ending knee injury in December 2010.
At the time, Allen appeared to be a young safety on the way up. He showed flashes last season but was inconsistent as he recovered from a ruptured tendon in his right knee. Allen took another step back in 2012. The Eagles have credited him with a career-high 60 solo tackles, but he has no interceptions, forced fumbles, or sacks.
Allen was asked whether his play had dipped since the injury.
"It's hard to say, man," he replied. "I'm not going to say it had anything to do with my knee. It is what it is."
Anderson, who filled in for the injured Coleman, played particularly well against the run in the last two games. Reid hinted last week that he was likely to keep Anderson as a starter. Coleman has struggled as much as Allen this season but is viewed as more aggressive.
Reid claimed that he was going with Anderson and Coleman because they would match up better against the Washington Redskins' running attack. The Eagles, like many teams across the league, have had trouble evaluating the safety position in recent years.
They expended two second-round picks on the position - Allen in 2010 and Jaiquawn Jarrett in 2011. Jarrett was released in September, and the team may have to wipe the slate clean again in the offseason.
Vick's No. 3
As expected, Reid named Michael Vick his No. 3 quarterback for Sunday. He could not say whether Vick would dress against the Redskins.
"I can't tell you numbers," the coach said. "I don't know how many are going to be up on Sunday. But right now, Mike's the third quarterback."
Vick missed five games because of a concussion. He returned to practice and was cleared by an independent neurologist last week. Two weeks ago, Reid named Nick Foles his starter for the rest of the season. Trent Edwards will back up the rookie.
Vick said he played the role of Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III on the Eagles' scout team during practice.
It's only two games, but the Eagles defense has played better since defensive line coach Jim Washburn was fired. There were a number of low moments since October, however, after Juan Castillo was fired as defensive coordinator and Todd Bowles took over. Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha was asked whether the upheaval affected the unit. "You wish the fix happened sooner - like we came around the Atlanta game or the New Orleans game as opposed to this late," Asomugha said. . . . Many believe that Sunday's game will be Reid's last at home as Eagles coach. Reid was asked whether a send-off from fans would resonate with him. "I'd like to tell you a different answer to that, but I haven't really gone there," he said.