Philadelphia Eagles Rookie Zach Ertz Playing Catch-Up

By Matt Lombardo
Howard Smith – USA TODAY Sports

A common sight in the first two days of the Philadelphia Eagles training camp has been rookie tight end Zach Ertz spending extra time on the field after practice with fellow tight ends James Casey, Will Shaw and assistant coaches to get as much work in as possible.

The Birds’ second-round draft choice missed all but the first weekend of rookie camp this spring because of league rules prohibiting first-year players from attending camps until their graduation ceremony is held. Despite missing valuable practice time, the 22-year old doesn’t feel that he’s very far behind in learning Chip Kelly‘s offense.

Despite being across the country while his new teammates were taking part in spring practices, Ertz remained in contact with coaches via Skype and kept his nose in his playbook.

“I don’t think I’ve missed too much, to be honest,” Ertz said just after walking off the practice field Wednesday. “I’ve been in my playbook a lot. I don’t think I could tell you how far behind I am now. I’m sure I could tell you that in a week but I don’t plan on that being a hindrance.”

In these first two days of training camp, Ertz has latched himself onto Casey in particular. The former Houston Texans player is in attendance among the rookies because he missed time this spring after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to clean out loose cartilage from of his right knee in May.

The two will likely be battling on the team’s depth chart, but that hasn’t stopped Ertz from picking up every morsel of information he can from the five-year veteran.

“James has been great,” Ertz explained. “I think he truly is a professional. He does everything right. I’m trying to surround myself with those kinds of people and just be the best player that I can.”

Ertz finished his junior season with 69 catches for 898 yards and six touchdowns. He figures to have an immediate impact this season in an offense that places a premium on the tight end position. At 6-foot-5, 249 pounds, Ertz has the build of a potential red-zone target for whoever lines up under center for the Eagles this fall. In particular, he has already grown close to fellow rookie Matt Barkley.

“Right after the draft I was out here when we picked Matt,” Ertz explained. “I sent him a text back then and ever since, it’s been a very good relationship and hopefully it’s one that will be really good in the future.”


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