Trey Burton

Can Eagles afford to keep 3rd-string stud Trey Burton?

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Can Eagles afford to keep 3rd-string stud Trey Burton?

He doesn't get that many chances. When they come, he never fails to produce.

Welcome to the world of Trey Burton, who is essentially the Eagles' third tight end but is talented enough that he could probably start for a lot of teams out there.

With Zach Ertz out with a concussion, Burton had a career day Sunday, with five catches for 71 yards and two touchdowns in the Eagles' 43-35 win over the Rams at L.A. Memorial Coliseum.

Burton's previous high was 65 yards against the Redskins last year, but Sunday's game came on the heels of a 4-for-42 performance a week earlier in Seattle. Two weeks before that, he was 2-for-41 with a touchdown against the Broncos.

Here's a list of previous Eagles tight ends with 70 yards and two TDs in a game in the last 50 years: Charle Young vs. the Saints in 1973, John Spagnola vs. the Saints in 1985, Chad Lewis vs. the Giants in 2000 and Ertz vs. the Cowboys the last day of last season.

"I just did whatever needed to be done," Burton said. "Zach was out, which we don’t like, we love having Zach in there, he makes so many plays. But somebody needed to step up and Brent and I both did what we needed to do."

Brent Celek caught a touchdown pass and Burton caught two, making this the first game in four years in which Eagles' tight ends caught three TDs. In early December 2013, Ertz had two TDs and Celek had one against the Cardinals.

Burton is a remarkable story.

Undrafted out of Florida. Didn't catch a pass until his 26th NFL game. Didn't have a touchdown until his 32nd NFL game. Didn't surpass 50 receiving yards until his 38th NFL game.

But in 20 games since Week 8 of last year, Burton has 42 catches for 426 yards and four touchdowns.

That's awfully good production for a third tight end. And he still plays fewer snaps than Celek.

"We're probably the only team in the league that can have one of the best tight ends go down and not play in a game and feel the degree of confidence that we have in the guy that's stepping up for him as far as a route runner with Trey and then with the things Brent can do," offensive coordinator Frank Reich said.

"Trey deserves a lot of credit. He's got a great skill-set and is a great playmaker."

Despite averaging only 20 snaps per game on offense (along with 20 more on special teams), Burton is 12th in the NFL among all tight ends with four touchdown catches.

Nobody on the roster has better hands than Burton, who in recent weeks has made challenging catches seem routine.

“Celek and I are just good players," Burton shrugged. "I think Zach would do the same thing if he (played vs. the Rams)."

Burton could start for a lot of teams. But he said he doesn't get frustrated at his lack of playing time or targets.

“Can’t control it," he said. "I can’t pout, I can’t be angry. I’m sitting behind one of the best in the NFL right now. Love that dude to death, extremely happy for him and Celek, all the opportunities that they get. Couldn’t be happier for them."

Then there's his contract.

Burton is playing on a one-year, $2.746 million deal he got this past offseason.

It's a deal that really reflects his value on special teams as well as a situational tight end. And it's an unusual amount of money for a backup tight end.

But the way he's played so far this year, Burton would be in line for a long-term deal worth much more this coming offseason.

Will it be here? Will it be elsewhere? Will the Eagles cut ties with Celek — who's been here since 2007 — in order to free up money to keep Burton? Releasing Celek would clear $4 million in cap space the Eagles desperately need. Or can Howie Roseman squeeze all three tight ends under the Eagles' 2018 salary cap?

Celek turns 33 next month and is still a capable blocker and receiver, but Burton just turned 26 and keeps getting better.

It would be tough to let Burton go.

Whatever is going to happen, Burton says he isn't even thinking about it.

“No, not at all," he said. "I can’t control that right now.”

The Eagles have a few months before they have to make these decisions.

And there's a first-round bye and home-field advantage to clinch at the moment.

"Trey’s a tremendous athlete," head coach Doug Pederson said. "He works extremely hard. He’s a core special teams player for us. Really, Trey hasn’t probably gotten a lot of offensive plays this year, but when he has … he’s made the most of his opportunity.

"He did that (against the Rams). Real proud of the way Trey played."

Eagles Inactives: Trey Burton, Beau Allen out vs. Bears

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Eagles Inactives: Trey Burton, Beau Allen out vs. Bears

The Eagles are without Beau Allen (knee) and Trey Burton (back) for Sunday's game against the Bears. 

Both entered the weekend listed as questionable and are inactive. 

Without Burton, the Eagles have just two tight ends active. While nothing is likely to change for Zach Ertz, Brent Celek could see an expanded role. 

Without Allen in the lineup, rookie Elijah Qualls is active for the first time since the Arizona game. He has played just 50 snaps all season. 

Joining Allen and Burton on the inactive list are: Nate Sudfeld, Marcus Johnson, Wendell Smallwood, Dannell Ellerbe, Will Beatty. 

With Johnson down, Shelton Gibson is active for the first time in his career. Gibson, a fifth-round pick out of West Virginia, had a terrible training camp but still made the active roster. He has been behind Johnson throughout the season. 

Steven Means is also active for the first time since the Carolina game. He has just eight defensive snaps all season. 

Ellerbe and Beatty have another week under their belts and have been learning their new schemes but are still inactive. This is their second week with the team. 

Bears inactives: QB Mark Sanchez, WR Joshua Bellamy, DB DeAndrew Houston-Carson, DB Bryce Callahan, LB Danny Trevathan, OL Tom Compton, DL Robertson-Harris.

Eagles Injury Update: Jake Elliott (concussion) cleared to play vs. Bears

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Eagles Injury Update: Jake Elliott (concussion) cleared to play vs. Bears

After a week of worrying, everyone can finally relax. 

Jake Elliott is going to play Sunday. 

The Eagles' kicker officially cleared the NFL's concussion protocol Friday morning, when he was cleared by an independent neurologist. Throughout the week it looked likely that Elliott would be able to play, but it didn't become official until Friday. 

Elliott suffered a concussion against the Cowboys during the first half of Sunday's game at AT&T Stadium. The Eagles needed to finish the game going for two-point conversions and with linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill kicking off. 

"When the hit happened on the opening kickoff, I was a little bit rattled," Elliott said Friday afternoon. "I had never had a concussion before. That was my first one. I didn't feel too loopy right at the time but as the first quarter went on, it just started to get worse and worse. That final play I was in there, was kind of a little bit of a haze. I decided to go seek someone out after that."

It wasn't until Elliott missed a 34-yarder that he went and got checked out. He said he didn't want to make excuses for the missed kick but "was a little bit out of it" on that play.  

Meanwhile, Beau Allen (knee) and Trey Burton (back) will both be game-time decisions, according to head coach Doug Pederson. Both are listed as questionable. 

Burton's back spasms came from the game Sunday and he has been dealing with the issue all week. He missed practice Thursday. If Burton can't play, the Eagles would go into Sunday's game with two tight ends — Zach Ertz and Brent Celek. If Burton is inactive, Celek will likely have an increased role, Pederson said. 

If Allen can't play, it's likely rookie Elijah Qualls will be active for the first time since the Arizona game. Qualls has played just 50 defensive snaps all season.