Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

The tight end problem?

And then there was Brent Celek ...

The tight end problem?

And then there was Brent Celek ...

Perhaps we posted too soon on what your biggest concerns are with the Eagles thus far in training camp, because the situation at tight end would certainly get some votes this morning with yesterday's announcement of a torn ACL that will end rookie Cornelius Ingram's season.

Ingram was impressing everyone with his size and speed during OTAs and training camp, but now will be watching his second consecutive season from the sidelines with a knee injury. He torn the same ACL a year ago before his senior season at the University of Florida.

The injury happened last Tuesday. Ingram said Wednesday that the knee was swollen and he sat out that day, but was back on the field Thursday. An MRI exam revealed the tear.

“It happened at a goal line period," coach Andy Reid said. "It looks like he hyperextended it a little bit. He remembers getting folded over but that’s not exactly what happened on the film. He did get folded over but his leg was in the air when that happened.”

Asked what this meant for the tight end position, Reid said, "The other guys just have to step up, that’s all.”

Well, the problem there is just who are the other guys and how likely is it that they can step up.

Celek is about to begin his first season as the full-time starter. Celek started 10 games last year with 27 catches for 318 yards. He started all three postseason games and had 10 receptions -- including two third-quarter touchdown catches -- in the Eagles' NFC Championship Game loss to Arizona.

Celek said he spent the offseason gaining weight and reducing his body fat to be in excellent condition for the season.

"I know there are people out there that still doubt me to this day," Celek told the Daily News this spring. "That's fine. I love that. Because it makes me work even harder. I just hope I can play good and help this team win football games."

Behind him on the depth chart is veteran journeyman Matt Schobel, who has been sidelined with a calf injury. Of course, at this point, most Eagles fans remember Schobel for the missed blocking assignment on the goal line play in the final moments of the Birds' loss to Chicago last year.

The Eagles also have Eugene Bright on the roster. He has been receiving a lot of extra reps with the injuries to the other tight ends, but comes to the Birds as a converted defensive end. The current depth chart likely gives him a good chance to earn a roster spot as his transition continues. That was far from a certainty with Ingram available. He has a big body to help as a blocker, a skill that Celek has been criticized for.

With Ingram's injury, the Eagles signed rookie free agent Rob Myers, who was signed by the Jets when he went undrafted but was released in late May. Myers missed his entire senior season after having surgery for a turf toe injury.

As a junior, he ranked second on the team in both receptions (21) and yards (320). His 15.2 yards/per catch average that year was tops among all collegiate tight ends.

Another option -- although one that Reid said he is not considering at the moment -- is using fullback Leonard Weaver as a tight end.

“Leonard played that in college and we’ve kept Leonard abreast of tight end plays throughout his time here," Reid said. "So, he would be able to step in if we needed him there. That’s not exactly what I’m looking at right now, but we have thought of it.”

The next question the Eagles have to ask themselves is whether this group is good enough. The Eagles have depth at wide receiver and defensive back. Could another team out there be looking to make a deal?

*

Also Saturday, special teams coordinator Ted Daisher was asked about Jeremy Maclin's progress as a punt returner.

“I think the game this week will help him," Daisher said. "He needs to get in a game, get in live situations where people are running down the field at him. I think he’s going to do fine. He does need some reps and we’re going to give them to him.”

Daisher said he also was happy with the tempo of the special teams practice.

“We have high character guys here," he said. "They take coaching, they run with it. Special teams is played at a frantic pace in games. So, if you go out and you practice slowly, you’re really not preparing guys for what they’re going to see on Sunday. And what we try to do is challenge them every day, make things difficult for them. So when they get in the game the speed of the game isn’t that different than what they’re doing in practice and it’s worked out in the past well.”

*

From the ex-Eagles file, there is a story in today's Boston Globe about wide receiver Greg Lewis. Apparently, the Patriots have coveted Lewis since the 2003 draft when he went undrafted coming out of Illinois. Coach Bill Belichick said the Pats first noticed Lewis when they were watching game tape of his Illini teammate Eugene Wilson, a defensive back New England selected in the second round that year.

“Greg’s always killed us; every time we’ve played him, he’s killed us,’’ Belichick said. “We haven’t been able to cover him very well, so that kind of catches your attention, catches your eye a little bit.

“It was an annual conversation, maybe more than annual, that I had with Andy Reid. We had discussed Greg Lewis in trade situations for . . . at least the last three years, and maybe longer. It might have even been his rookie year. It’s gone back a long way.’’

For more on G-Lew, click here.

 

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Check back later for more reports from a rainy day at Lehigh, including an update on DeSean Jackson's knee injury.

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