Through three games last season, tight end Brent Celek had seven catches for 65 yards. Celek made his seventh catch of last Sunday's game in the fourth quarter by leaping up to catch a pass between Ravens defenders Ed Reed and Ray Lewis.
So it's fair to say Celek's season is off to a better start this time around.
Celek finished last Sunday's game with eight catches for 157 yards. More importantly, he was a key part of the Eagles' dramatic home opening win against the Baltimore Ravens. Quarterback Michael Vick targeted his tight end early and often, and the Ravens were unable to keep Celek in check.
"You just have to be able to find the soft spots," he explained Wednesday. "(You have to) know where people are going to be versus certain coverages. There are certain plays that are designed to get you in certain spots so you just have to make sure you get there in a timely manner so Mike can see you."
When the Eagles needed him Sunday, Celek responded. With his team driving down the field to take the lead in the fourth quarter, Celek hauled in two critical passes for 37 yards. When safety Bernard Pollard took him to the ground with a big hit, he popped right back up. And in an impressive display of athletic prowess, he leapt over future Hall of Famer Ed Reed to pick up a few tough extra yards in the third quarter.
"He played a major part in Sunday's win," Vick said Wednesday. "He did all the right things – he caught the ball, he ran good routes. He did everything that we know Brent can do. It's gratifying to our team to know that we have such a great tight end."
Celek and Vick have been teammates for three years now, and their chemistry was on display last Sunday. Vick has targeted Celek 19 times so far this season, tied for the team lead. He has 12 catches for 222 yards, which ranks first among all NFL tight ends and fourth among all receivers.
"I think just playing together for a few years, that's something that helps," Celek said. "We understand each other; where I'm going to be. I kind of understand when he's going to throw it where he's going to be. So it's good that way."
The contributions of Celek make the Eagles offense that much more potent. Instead of zeroing in on one or two players, opposing defenses must account for every receiver, back and tight end wearing midnight green. And Celek's performance Sunday is proof that every player on offense is capable of contributing in a big way.
"I'll tell you, if everybody that is a viable receiver or ball carrier has the opportunity to carry the ball, that puts pressure onto the defense, that they know that they've got to account for that player," head coach Andy Reid said after practice Wednesday. "Celek played at a high level and did a nice job on Sunday. He's a big part of that."
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