Found December 17, 2013 on
Eagles rookie tight end Zach Ertz hauled in his fourth touchdown catch of the season against the Vikings and surpassed veteran Brent Celek in playing time. (Image courtesy of Minnesota.com)
Eagles rookie tight end Zach Ertz saw his most expanded workload of the season Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings and surpassed veteran Brent Celek in terms of snap count.
The Stanford University product, and Eagles second-round draft choice, has come on strong of late and took 65 percent of the offensive snaps to Celek's 45.
Ertz made the most of his increased playing time by hauling in six receptions on nine targets from quarterback Nick Foles for 57 yards and a touchdown.
On Tuesday Eagles offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur downplayed the rookie surpassing Celek and said that it was just the way that the game plan worked out against the Vikings.
Chip Kelly's comments Monday mirrored Shurmur's but it appears the first-year head coach hopes to see more of Ertz moving forward in the passing game.
"I think some of the things we're doing and with that and there are certain things where when you get into a throwing game," Kelly said. "It gets Zach in the game a little more."
Still, it's hard to ignore the production that Ertz has put up as a rookie, especially as of late. In the last four games Ertz, 23, has posted 13 receptions for 156 yards and three touchdowns.
On the season, Ertz has totalled 32 receptions for 399 yards and four touchdowns, while slowly but surely showing exactly how prolific the tight end position can be -along with Celek- in Kelly's up-tempo offense.
"I think Zach is similar to guys like Celek who came in primarily as a pass catcher," Shurmur said. "Ideally you want to see a guy develop a complete game, which means as a tight end improving as a blocker so you can play more than just third downs. I think he's made progress through the year."
Molding Ertz into that type of complete tight end seems to be the next step for the coaching staff, especially if the short-term plan is to use him as the primary tight end moving forward for not just the future but for the remainder of this season as well.
"I think that sort of thing takes some time," Shurmur admitted. "He's a rookie that's playing a lot of football in his first year, much like Lane Johnson. Those rookies have a lot to learn and you like to see improvement throughout the year and he's very good at showing us that."
Clearly Kelly, Shurmur and the Eagles see value in Ertz's playmaking ability after making him the third player selected in the second round of the draft. Now it seems those visions are coming to fruition.
"You saw it the other night," Shurmur pointed out. "He can make acrobatic catches and if you're a tight end and can't catch the ball then I don't know what use you are. He can do that.
"He's always been an outstanding pass receiver. When he makes those [one handed catches] they're terrific. But we expect he'll make a contested catch and he's done a good job of that."
Matt Lombardo is the Editor-In-Chief of Eagledelphia and also an on-air personality on 97.5 FM The Fanatic in Philadelphia. Join the conversation and follow Matt on Twitter.
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