By Joseph Santoliquito
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — He's always been looked past, and looked over, and looked by, and Colt Anderson always had an instinctive way of ignoring the looks.
He's listed at 5-foot-10, 194 pounds, undersized by NFL safety standards, considered not big enough, not fast enough or strong enough to play Division I football, let alone the NFL. But here he is, a shining glimmer in a dismal season for the Eagles, as an Ed Block Award winner, returning from a major knee injury, and picking off a pass on Sunday against the Redskins, the Eagles' first interception since Nnamdi Asomugha picked off a pass against Detroit on October 14—nine games ago.
He was born and raised in Butte, Montana, but there's a lot of Philly and a lot to like about Anderson, a quintessential underdog who keeps battling and chewing back. He was an all-state football player coming out of Butte High School and wasn't recruited at all, save for a few local NAIA schools.
Still, Anderson defied that and walked on at Montana, where he caught the attention of former Eagle Tim Hauck, then the Grizzlies' secondary coach, now with the Cleveland Browns and the best known for ending Michael Irvin's career on the hard Veterans Stadium turf when he was with the Eagles.
By his senior year at Montana, Anderson was on full scholarship and voted on by his teammates as team captain.
That diligence and perseverance got him nothing from the NFL. He went undrafted, again, placed in a spot where he had to walk on, where he had to defy piled up odds. This time, the Minnesota Vikings noticed enough of Anderson to give him a chance—though a minor one on their practice squad.
That sliver of an opportunity Anderson parlayed into a bigger scope with the Eagles. Someone else happened to notice Anderson, Eagles' general manager Howie Roseman. The Eagles signed him to a three-year deal on November 9, 2010.
"I don't think his talent was appreciated on special teams," Eagles' special teams coach Bobby April said about Anderson. "When I first saw him play, when Howie [Roseman] showed me the film of him at Minnesota, when he was on their practice squad, I looked at the film and said, 'Geez, this guy can play for anybody in this league, and he's playing for nobody.' Absolutely, let's get him—what are we waiting for!
"He can just play. He's underappreciated. When we got him, he signed on Tuesday and he played for us on Sunday. I guarantee you there's nothing I did on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday to elevate him from being a practice squad player to watching him as being one of the best special teams players in the league. We were smart enough to get him. I think Colt always had that, he just needed an opportunity."
And the mental toughness to keep pushing forward. It's been an arduous road. Anderson was having a stellar 2011 season when he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament against Seattle last December 1. He fought back through rehab, he fought through the doubts.
"I believe I'm a mentally tough guy that can get through things," Anderson said. "I'm a positive guy; no matter how hard things are, you always have to look forward. It was easy to be positive—I got a chance.
"There are always people that doubt you no matter what level. It's happened my whole life. I don't try worrying about that. I focus on people that are in my corner. Tim Hauck was always in my corner and he believed in me. It led to a partial scholarship and by senior year, being voted as team captain. I knew I would get a break and a chance. I think the drive to be the best that I can, and family and friends always had faith in me, that's what pushes me. I'm the kind of guy that likes to outwork my opponents and believe in myself. I don't worry about the doubters. I use my family and two sons—that's a 14-month old and two-month old. That's what drives me. It's easy motivation to play for them and be the best father figure that I can be."
Eagles Re-Sign Antonio Dixon
The Philadelphia Eagles announced Wednesday that they have signed DT Antonio Dixon to a two-year contract and placed QB Nick Foles on the Injured Reserve list (hand). The team also signed LB Marcus Dowtin to the practice squad.
Dixon (6-3, 322) played in two games for the Indianapolis Colts this season but was released on October 29. Prior to his time in Indianapolis, he spent three seasons in Philadelphia (2009-11) after originally signing with the Washington Redskins as a rookie free agent following the 2009 NFL Draft. While with the Eagles, Dixon played in 35 games (10 starts) and recorded 62 tackles and three sacks. He was named to USA Today's 2010 All-Joe Team, which honors the NFL players whose work doesn't necessarily garner headlines, but is integral to the success of their football teams.
Dowtin (6-2, 226) recorded four special teams tackles in three games for the New York Jets this season after being elevated from the practice squad to the active roster on October 17. He was waived by the team on November 20. Dowtin was originally signed by the club as a rookie free agent following the 2012 NFL Draft. He played three seasons at Georgia before transferring to North Alabama for his senior season. During his collegiate career, he played in 47 games and amassed 246 tackles, 7.5 sacks, two interceptions and five forced fumbles. A native of Upper Marlboro, MD, Dowtin attended Fork Union Military Academy where he was a high school standout.
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