Eagles

Eagles

Brent Celek is going to savor every rep at practice, treasure every day with his teammates, enjoy every last moment in meetings.
 
Because he knows this could very well be the end.
 
“I’m trying to have the attitude like, 'This could be it for me,'" Celek said after practice Wednesday. "I think when you have that attitude you think differently and you take advantage of things a little bit more. You pay attention to the details a little bit more. I’m just trying to have a different attitude about it."
 
Celek, now in his 11th training camp with the Eagles and entering the final year of his contract, looks no different from the 22-year-old rookie fifth-round draft pick that made the team in 2007 ahead of Lee Vickers.
 
Working mainly against linebackers and safeties who were in middle school when he began his Eagles career, Celek is enjoying a fine training camp as he approaches his 33rd birthday.
 
He's no longer the big-time receiving threat he once was, but he's still the Eagles' best blocking tight end and a respected locker room voice.
 
And he's going to make sure he enjoys every minute of his 11th — and perhaps final — NFL season.
 
"I played with a lot of guys here that were some of my best friends that are no longer here and I know a lot of them wish they could still go out there on game day and still do things," he said. "I do it for that, I do it for these guys in the locker room. I love this game.
 
“Shoot, this is my dream, to play in the NFL, so any opportunity you get you take advantage of it."
 
Celek has played 159 games in an Eagles uniform, seventh most in franchise history. If he plays all 16 games this year — and he's only missed one game in 10 seasons — he'll move up to fifth place, behind only David Akers, Brian Dawkins, Harold Carmichael and presumably Jon Dorenbos.
 
Chuck Bednarik is the only player who's played his entire career with the Eagles to play more games.
 
"I’m trying to enjoy every moment of it because it could be taken away at any moment," he said. "Especially where I’m at with my age. I’m trying to make the most of every opportunity."
 
Celek began his career backing up L.J. Smith, then, from 2009 through 2013, he averaged over 50 catches for about 700 yards, numbers only five other tight ends matched during that five-year period. Now he's a blocking specialist, although he can still catch the football and trample a couple guys when he gets the chance.
 
In all, Celek has 385 catches for 4,868 yards and 30 touchdowns. He ranks fourth in catches, eighth in yards and 12th in TDs in Eagles history.
 
“I think the biggest thing that stands out to me about Brent Celek is that he’s missed one game in his career. In 11 years," long-time friend and teammate Jason Kelce said. "He played one year with a torn labrum and both of his hips were screwed up.
 
"You want to talk about a guy who does anything he can for the team, goes out there and plays through everything, practices through everything, and I think guys who take mentalities like that, those guys stick around for a while because the organization respects you, the other players respect you.
 
"He’s just a special guy. Not only is he a great player, he’s special with the work ethic and leadership he brings every day. It just means a lot to us.”
 
Eleven years in, Celek is healthy and fit, but he said it takes more and more each year to stay that way.
 
He said he still uses a lot of the fundamentals of the sports science program Chip Kelly brought to the NovaCare Complex in 2013.
 
“I still feel like I can do a great job out there, I’ve just got to do a lot of extra stuff off the football field," he said.
 
"I have to. If I don’t stretch before I go to bed or don’t wake up early and stretch, work out, get my body feeling right, I won’t last very long, I can tell you that. But when I do those things I feel great, so I’ve just got to stay on it. The older you get, the more you have to work at it to get back to feeling good."
 
The last Eagle to play over 100 games and never spend a day with another organization was linebacker Byron Evans, who played 113 games from 1987 through 1994. Before that, it was Mike Quick, who played 101 games from 1982 through 1990.
 
Celek, whose three-year, $13 million contract is up after this year, would love to join that elite group.
 
“That would be ideal, I would love that," he said. "I love this organization, everything they’ve done for me. They’ve been outstanding. Now it’s time for me to give back and let’s try to win something here. Because that’s what matters.
 
"The city deserves that, this organization deserves that, and it’s my job to help lead this team to do that, so I’ve got a big job to do."
 
Celek is the only position player left from the 2008 run to the NFC Championship Game, so he's the only position player remaining who's actually won a postseason game as an Eagle.
 
That was nine years ago.
 
“When you go to the championship game your second year, you’re thinking, ‘OK, we’ve got a great football team, we’re going to be back here and do this again,'" Celek said.
 
"But you can’t take those things for granted. You’ve got to work like you’ve never been there before. We’ve got to do everything in our power to get back there because that’s all that matters. This city only cares about Super Bowl. They don’t care about anything else.”