Eagles

Eagles Injury Update: Zach Ertz clears concussion protocol

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NBC Sports Philadelphia

Eagles Injury Update: Zach Ertz clears concussion protocol

The Eagles finally got some good news this week. 

Tight end Zach Ertz has cleared the NFL's concussion protocol and will be able to practice as the Eagles begin preparations for the Giants. 

"He's good to go," head coach Doug Pederson said. 

Ertz missed the Rams game with the concussion, although it appeared he was close to being cleared then. 

Despite missing two games this season, Ertz still has 57 catches for 663 yards and seven touchdowns. Only Travis Kelce, Rob Gronkowski and Delanie Walker have more receiving yards among tight ends. Only Jimmy Graham (9) has more touchdown catches.

Left guard Stefen Wisniewski is "doing good," according to Pederson. Wisniewski left Sunday's game with an ankle injury. He did not practice on Wednesday. Though Pederson said Wisniewski should be able to play this weekend. 

Wednesday is a big day for Sidney Jones. The Eagles' second-round pick, who has been recovering from a torn Achilles that dropped him out of the first round, will practice for the first time. 

Pederson said the plan is to bring along Jones slowly, much like the Eagles did with Ronald Darby a few weeks ago. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said this will almost be like the first week of OTAs for the rookie. 

"All due respect to our trainers, they are not a challenge to cover, and he's only been working with those guys," Schwartz said. 

Pederson said the Eagles will use Jones on their scout team and get him some special teams work. 

What does Pederson want to see? 

"We've watched [Jones] through his progression and his training these last few weeks," he said. "And now just want to see him in football conditions, the true transition of stopping and starting. Making a play on the ball and seeing his instincts and things like that, things we haven't been able to monitor this season."

Carson Wentz fought back against jealousy toward Nick Foles

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USA Today Images

Carson Wentz fought back against jealousy toward Nick Foles

Was he jealous? Was he envious of Nick Foles? Carson Wentz doesn’t exactly say yes. But he doesn’t say no, either.

“You’ve got to fight that, you’ve got to fight that,” Wentz said Tuesday.

“It’s human nature to want to be on that podium and be the guy. You grow up wanting to be there, but not being able to be up there, there’s nobody I’d rather have up there than Nick.”

Wentz may have been the most valuable player in the NFL, but Foles, his close friend and teammate, is the one with a Super Bowl MVP trophy.

Wentz did everything he could to support Foles once he suffered a season-ending knee injury in early December. And Foles has spoken several times about what a good teammate Wentz was.

But after leading the Eagles to a 10-2 record with 33 touchdowns and just seven interceptions, it wasn’t the easiest thing to watch his backup achieve football immortality with a record-setting run through the postseason.

“It was pretty different but pretty special,” Wentz said. “We’ve become so close ever since he first got here. Developed a real friendship, a real relationship, more than just a working relationship, a true friendship between me and him — and Nate (Sudfeld) as well. So to go through that experience last year was pretty cool.”

For now, Foles is back with the Eagles, and depending on how fast Wentz recovers from his injury (see story), he will either begin the season backing up Wentz or starting until Wentz is ready.

This is unprecedented stuff. No quarterback has ever been a Super Bowl MVP and then been a backup on the same team the next year.

Without the right two guys, it wouldn’t work. It couldn’t work.

But Zach Ertz, who is close to both Foles and Wentz, said their unique relationship makes it possible.

“First and foremost, they have an amazing relationship with one another, and I think their faith is part of their relationship,” he said.

“They’re able to step back and just focus on the team. Both guys have no egos, especially Nick. That guy is as cool as they come. He’s a phenomenal teammate, I think everyone saw that come out last year, his ability even at the beginning of the year, what he was able to do with Carson, kind of helping him out.

“When Carson was playing, Nick would be a sounding board. So the dynamic really hasn’t changed in that regard. Even when Nick was playing, Carson did the same thing for him. So that relationship started to grow last year, and I’m assuming it’s going to be the same.”

Foles has made it clear he wants to be a starter (see story), so this could be a difficult situation. But it won’t be, Ertz promises.

“Nick is not a guy that’s going to demand anything,” he said. “Obviously, he could do some things in the best interests of his career down the road, but right now I mean the guy loves being in Philadelphia and I think he’s really having fun in playing football with this team.”

Zach Ertz missing Brent Celek as he takes his leadership role

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USA Today Images

Zach Ertz missing Brent Celek as he takes his leadership role

There was a noticeable difference in the NovaCare Complex when Zach Ertz arrived on Monday for the first day of the Eagles’ offseason workout program. 

No Brent Celek. 

Celek, the 11-year pro, was cut earlier this offseason after a tremendous career with the Eagles. For the first time in Ertz’s six-year career, Celek won’t be around. 

And weirdly, Ertz will now assume Celek’s old role as the veteran leader in the Eagles’ tight end room. 

“It’s tough, obviously,” Ertz said on Tuesday. “He was the guy that when they brought me in, he was the guy, the veteran tight end in Philadelphia. He was the guy everyone knew about. And he didn’t treat me as a guy who was a competitor to him; he treated me as the guy who could help him further his career, where he didn’t have to take every snap. So it’s tough. That guy has been with me from the beginning, pretty much taught me how to be a pro in Philadelphia. 

“Even a couple years back, when the playing time began to increase in my way, he let me kind of take on a leadership role. He wasn’t overbearing by any means. He kind of let me lead in my own way. Even though he was the leader of the room, per se, he let me lead and slowly earn more of a leadership role in our room. He kind of set me up for this moment. I owe a lot of my success to Brent, the way he was a dominant blocking tight end, I was able to learn from that for a lot of years. I’m extremely thankful for him.”

While Ertz learned how to be a pro from Celek, he always tried to become a top-notch tight end like the Cowboys’ Jason Witten. He’s long admired his game. While some would argue Ertz finally had a breakout season in 2017, his last three years have been elite. Since 2015, he has 227 catches for 2,493 yards and 14 touchdowns. The only other TEs to put up those numbers or better over that span are Travis Kelce and Delanie Walker. And in 2017, Ertz did something Celek never did: he made a Pro Bowl. 

Celek was released and Trey Burton signed a lucrative deal to become the top tight end in Chicago, so Ertz is the only player left from last year’s tight end room. The Eagles brought in Richard Rodgers as a free agent and have a few younger prospects already on the expanded roster, but the Eagles’ brass has commented about how good of a tight end draft this is, so it would make sense if they add one later this month. 

If the Eagles do draft a tight end, the 27-year-old Ertz is going to try to be a strong veteran presence for the young player … kind of like what Celek was for him. 

“I told the guys the other day, I’m here to help however I can, whether that be talking football or just allowing them to watch how I approach things,” Ertz said. “I kind of was able to learn from Brent how to treat young tight ends coming in, young players coming in, so that’s one of the things that he kind of told me as he was leaving: that I kind of set the blueprint for your success. He didn’t say that verbally, but that’s how I took it. I want to repeat that for whoever comes in.”

Celek is gone, but through Ertz, his impact is still going to be felt in the NovaCare Complex for years to come.