When he played at the University of Florida, Trey Burton lined up as an H-back, a fullback, a tight end, a quarterback and a wide receiver. He did it all for an offense that relied on his varied athletic skills. And while those talents helped the Gators and gave Burton one of the most unique stat lines in college football, the role didn't necessarily prepare Burton for the NFL.
Yet here he is, two football seasons later, elevating his game every day as a tight end for the Eagles. Burton's improvement was evident in Saturday's 39-26 preseason win over Green Bay as he contributed a pair of touchdowns among his four receptions for 21 yards.
"I think I've made a good amount of progress, especially considering that last year I didn't really know anything about the position," said Burton, who was signed by the Eagles as a rookie free agent following the 2014 NFL Draft. "I owe everything to (Zach) Ertz and (Brent) Celek and James Casey last year and to my coach (Justin Peelle) who has put a ton of time into me. They've given me a chance to have success."
Burton figures to play as a third tight end, however sparing those reps might be in the regular season, and contribute as a core part of Dave Fipp's outstanding special teams unit. Burton caught a pair of passes on Saturday night for touchdowns in the red zone - one from Sam Bradford from 3 yards out to give the Eagles a 12-0 lead and then finishing off the first-half shellacking with a 7-yard catch from Mark Sanchez to make the score 39-14.
"Great play calls. Obviously they worked really well based on the coverage they were in," Burton said. "I got two unbelievable balls from Bradford and Sanchez and made the catches. It was really pretty easy for me. The passes were in perfect spots."
Burton's development as a rookie allowed the Eagles to release Casey and use his cap money (approximately $4 million) elsewhere, and now Burton has moved into the No. 3 tight end spot. With Ertz recovering from a core muscle injury that required surgery, Burton will be ready for extra duty should Ertz not be ready for Atlanta on September 14 (although the Eagles expect Ertz to be ready).
"You have to be ready," Burton said. "That's the job. We're ready, no matter what. When you get the call, you step up."
Burton has certainly done that, adding depth to an important position in the offense.