Philadelphia Eagles News

Three-And-Out: Tight End

1. Will Brent Celek be asked to block as much as he was in 2010?

This question has been addressed in full already, but Celek's role certainly changed a bit in 2010. With the dynamic Michael Vick patrolling the backfield and avoiding oncoming pass rusher, Celek was asked to pass protect much more than he was in 2009. Of course, Celek still remained a threat as a receiver, as evidenced by his 65-yard touchdown reception that helped spark the Miracle at the New Meadowlands, but he wasn't nearly as prolific in the pass game as he was in 2009, when he had one of the great receiving years in franchise history for a tight end with 76 catches for 971 yards.

And how will new offensive line coach Howard Mudd factor into all of this? In Indianapolis, where Mudd helped Peyton Manning and the Colts offense lead the league in fewest sacks allowed, tight ends were rarely asked to pass protect that often. Could Celek then be in for a Dallas Clark type season? His role remains one of the more intriguing questions heading into 2011.

2. How dangerous can Clay Harbor be as a No. 2 tight end?

Harbor won the backup tight end job out of training camp as a rookie last season and spent the first half of the season watching and learning from the sidelines. While starting six games over the last eight games, Harbor notched nine catches for 72 yards, numbers that certainly won't knock your socks off. But Harbor endeared himself to his teammates and coaches with a hard-working attitude that portends well for his future. Consider that in his own rookie season, Celek posted 16 catches for 178 yards.

In order to get on the field more, Harbor's blocking will also need to take another step forward, though he's been praised for his effort in that role as a rookie. He certainly has the natural tools to excel as a blocker, as Harbor posted the most bench press reps of any tight end at the 2010 scouting combine. But the 6-foot-3, 253-pound physical specimen should make the most impact in the passing game, where his speed and athletic ability should create the kind of mismatch that provides the Eagles with yet another weapon in the air.

3. Will the Eagles keep only two tight ends on the roster?

In each of the last two seasons, and three of the last five, the Eagles have had only two tight ends on the roster (if you don't count former long snapper Mike Bartrum as a tight end). Going "light" at tight end has allowed the team to keep an extra player at a more premium position, like cornerback or defensive line, so it very well may stay that way in 2011. But Andy Reid is also always willing to keep a player around who can make an impact on offense, so if a third tight end emerges, tripling up at the position can't be ruled out.

There are currently two other tight ends on the Eagles roster. Cornelius Ingram was drafted by the Eagles in the fifth round of the 2009 draft and has been fighting hard to get back to the healthy and explosive player he was in college. It's not fair to count on him to do that at this point, but the opening is there. Another 2009 fifth-round draft pick, John Nalbone, was signed following the season and he too will compete in training camp. A former standout at Monmouth University, he played in two games in 2010 before the Miami Dolphins released him. Of course, the Eagles could also turn to free agency, either veteran or undrafted, to beef up the tight end position before training camp, though any tight end hoping to crack into the roster will have some recent history to fight against.

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