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Coleman strives to be like Dawkins

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Alex Marvez

Alex Marvez is a Senior NFL Writer for FOXSports.com. He has covered the NFL for the past 18 seasons as a beat writer and is the former president of the Pro Football Writers of America. He also is a frequent host on Sirius XM NFL Radio.

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PHILADELPHIA

He knew Brian Dawkins was a future Hall of Fame safety.

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But until being drafted by Philadelphia, Kurt Coleman didn’t grasp just how difficult it was for those who have unsuccessfully attempted to replace Dawkins since his free-agent departure in 2009 after 13 seasons with the Eagles.

“When you live in this city,” Coleman told FOXSports.com, “You truly learn how much it loves B-Dawk and how he played this game.”

Coleman is now trying to form his own love affair with Eagles fans. And although he’s a long way from reaching such revered status, Coleman is doing his best to emulate Dawkins both on the field and as a locker-room leader.

“Being a safety I studied him a lot,” said Coleman, a 2010 seventh-round pick who became a full-time starter the following season. “Regardless of the numerous amounts of plays he made, I loved the passion that he played the game with. That’s what I like to bring as well as being able to hit people and make plays.”

Relative to the latter, Coleman is admittedly hit-and-miss in 2012. Coleman is Philadelphia’s second-leading tackler with 60 stops entering the FOX America’s Game of the Week between the Eagles and visiting Dallas Cowboys (4:25 p.m. ET Sunday).

Coleman has advanced to the point that he considers himself a “play-maker.” Coleman, though, bemoans his productivity forcing turnovers. His two interceptions came in the season-opener against Cleveland. Coleman also forced a fumble two games ago against Atlanta.

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The Eagles have generated 10 turnovers overall, which is tied for the third-lowest number in the NFC. Compounding the problem: Philadelphia’s offense has committed 19 turnovers, creating a negative-nine ratio that ranks 29th among all teams.

“I feel like I understand what other offenses are doing so much, but a lot of times I don’t take the time to put myself in position,” Coleman admitted. “If I could focus on myself a little more ...”

An overall lack of defensive focus was one of the factors that led to head coach Andy Reid’s surprising decision last month to fire coordinator Juan Castillo. The problems haven’t gotten fixed yet under replacement Todd Bowles heading into the Cowboys game.

"We’re playing really hard. The unfortunate part is we’re not always executing and making the plays we need to,” Coleman said. “There are times where you go back and watch the film and it's maybe one guy not getting to his gap or one guy being a step away and not being able to make the play.

“To take the next step on defense, we’ve got to be able to make plays and get the ball. We’ve got to somehow change the momentum of games with our play.”

There is something else Coleman wants to change off the field: The perception that breast cancer is only a women’s disease.

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Coleman’s father Ron, a long-time fixture of the high school and college basketball scene in Dayton, Ohio, was one of the rare men diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006. Ron has made a complete recovery, but he and his son are trying to raise awareness through a foundation they have established at www.Coleman4acure.org.

“We’re starting to make strides at making people aware,” said Kurt Coleman, who helped raise more than $2,500 for the foundation during a Breast Cancer Awareness month event held several weeks ago. “This is just a stepping stone to what I think the foundation can really do for families all around the world.”

Coleman has something else he wants to accomplish – spending more time with Dawkins to learn how to become an even better safety.

"I haven't had a chance to pick his brain as much as I’ve wanted to,” Coleman said. “But I think some of the best things he’s told me were just to continue to play my game and have fun when you're out there.

“Honestly, when it's all said and done, you don't get to have this type of fun anywhere else in the real world. I love what I do. I've just got to continue to raise my play and that of those around me."

Tagged: Eagles, Brian Dawkins, Kurt Coleman

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