Brent Celek was at Temple University Hospital Thursday, unveiling the latest initiative of his Take Flight Foundation, a Take Flight Zone at Temple Pediatric Care. This is a bigger version of what Celek did last year at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children -- lots of video gaming stuff for children who are hospitalized or who are just waiting to see a physician.
Celek posed for photos and signed autographs for dozens of North Philly kids, then had a moment to speak with your Eagletarian about his offseason, which included January surgeries on his hip, and for a double hernia.
Celek, 27, said he feels "better than I have probably in the last three of four years."
"I'm super-excited -- I'm excited to show what I can do," said Celek, who came on strong in the second half of the 2011 season to finish with 62 catches for 811 yards and five touchdowns. Forty-nine of those catches and three of the touchdowns happened in the last 10 games, after the offensive line got straightened out well enough not to need Celek's constant help.
"It's been a real good offseason. A lot of guys are working out together, everyone's excited," said Celek, who helped organize erratically attended workouts last spring during the NFL lockout. "Last year, we were trying to work out together, but everybody's in their different towns, there's that uncertainty of when you're ever even going to come back, if there's going to be a season. We know what's going on now, we're working hard with each other, and we're jelling as a team."
Eagles coach Andy Reid said Monday that he planned to limit Celek's reps initially, when the Eagles gather for full-team workouts starting May 22, "just to see how he's doing." Reid added that Celek should be full-go for training camp. Celek said he feels he "has to be smart" with what he does for the time being.
Like most Eagles fans, Celek said he was glad to see the Birds trade for Texans linebacker DeMeco Ryans, who should help on and off the field.
"One of my buddies who plays for the Texans [Connor Barwin, a fellow Cincinnati alum], as soon as the trade happened, he told me, 'you not only got one of the best players in the league, but one of the good guys.' From what Connor told me, it was a good find for us," Celek said.
This could be a big year for Celek. Partly because of the rules about hits to defenseless receivers, offenses seem to be looking more to the seams, more to the middle of the field, where Celek likes to rumble.
"The NFL goes through phases. When you see teams that have double tight ends that are being very successful, other people are going to want to move to that," Celek said. The Birds used Celek and fellow tight end Clay Harbor on the field at the same time a lot down the stretch, mimicking the Patriots and other teams pioneering the trend.
Of course, Celek can only be a big weapon if the o-line doesn't need a lot of help again. The dark cloud there is Jason Peters and his twice-torn Achilles'. Nobody really knows what to expect yet from replacement left tackle Demetress Bell.
"Whether I'm in (to block), whether I'm out, I'm not going to worry about that," said Celek, who has bulked up to a sculpted 260 over the past few years.