Philadelphia Eagles’ Zach Ertz on ‘freak show’ TE teammate, Wentz staves off jealousy and more
The Philadelphia Eagles made safety Malcolm Jenkins, quarterback Carson Wentz, tight end Zach Ertz and linebacker Jordan Hicks available to the media on Tuesday. Below are a few brief notes to come out of the interview sessions.
Ertz praises young tight end teammate
Pro Bowler Zach Ertz is in an unfamiliar position as the Birds ramp up their offseason workout program. After sharing a tight ends room with respected veteran Brent Celek and pass-catching specialist Trey Burton the past four seasons, Ertz is the last-man standing of that Super Bowl championship trio.
Burton signed a lucrative deal with the Bears to take on a more expanded role, and the Eagles released Celek in a cost-cutting move after 11 seasons.
So Ertz is in line to grow as a more prominent leader in the locker room. And he’s also going to have to work alongside new faces in his position group for the first time since 2013.
Philadelphia signed former Packers tight end Richard Rodgers earlier this month, and Ertz also alluded during his news conference Tuesday to three younger players on the roster who could push to make the team this fall. One of those guys, Billy Brown, spent all of last season on the Eagles’ practice squad and has the tools to replace Burton as a versatile offensive target.
Ertz seems to think highly of the second-year tight end out of Shepherd.
“The guy is a freak show as an athlete,” Ertz said of Brown. “He’s 260 [pounds], he played receiver in college, he’s got amazing hands. He catches everything that’s thrown to him. Each and every tight end that we have has got to work on his blocking, including myself, but he’s got a lot of potential.”
If Brown can cash in on that potential, perhaps he’ll suit up next to Ertz on game days in 2018.
Wentz fights jealousy
After tearing his ACL on Dec. 10, Wentz had to watch from the sideline as the Eagles rolled through the playoffs and won the franchise’s first Super Bowl in February. Wentz said all the while that he valued his relationship with Nick Foles, who morphed from backup quarterback to Philadelphia hero during that stretch.
On Tuesday, Wentz spoke of his friendship with Foles but didn’t deny that feelings of jealousy could creep up from time to time.
“You gotta fight that,” Wentz said. “It’s human nature to want to be on that podium and be that guy. You grow up as a kid wanting to do that. But, you know, to not be able to be up there, I wouldn’t want to have anyone else be up there than Nick.”
- Philadelphia Eagles’ Jordan Hicks: ‘When I’m out there, I’m productive’
Jenkins talks Patrick Robinson’s replacement
The Eagles knew they’d have to make changes to their roster after winning the title, but all indications suggest they wanted to keep Patrick Robinson.
Instead, though, the veteran cornerback left in free agency to sign with the New Orleans Saints.
That leaves a hole for the Eagles to fill. Last season, Robinson shined in the nickelback role for the Birds, covering slot receivers as well as any defender in the league.
“He played great last year,” said Jenkins, a captain of the defense. “He made a ton of plays for us, won us some games, so just to replace that amount of production is always tough.”
Philadelphia doesn’t appear to have an obvious plan to move on from Robinson at nickelback, and that’s OK, Jenkins said. The team has time to sort that out.
Jenkins has spent time through his career covering slot receivers, while cornerback Jalen Mills has the skill set to play inside. As the Eagles survey their options to replace Robinson, it helps that the team has two steady starting safeties and four talented cornerbacks younger than 25 on the roster.
“We’re confident in the guys we have in the room,” Jenkins said. “I’ve had a lot of experience at the nickel position, we’ve got other guys that are versatile that can drop in. We still haven’t finished building all the roster, whether we’re doing something in the draft or adding guys. The top combination of five or six DBs hasn’t really been thought of yet. That’s what the offseason is for: For guys to compete, to get evaluated. And come August, we’ll be ready to identify who that group is.”
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