Rick Lovato

Eagles’ Rick Lovato makes long snapper history

Eagles’ Rick Lovato makes long snapper history

Rick Lovato thought it was strange when he received a phone call from Doug Pederson on Tuesday evening. Believe it or not, the head coach doesn’t call to chat with the long snapper very frequently. 

Pederson had some good news, though. 

Lovato, the 27-year-old who was working in his family’s New Jersey sandwich shop before the Eagles signed him in 2017, had been named to his first Pro Bowl. 

“It was pretty cool to hear it from him,” Lovato said. 

It meant even more to Lovato because this was the first year in which players and coaches were permitted to vote for the Pro Bowl long snappers. Previously, that duty fell to the head coaches of Pro Bowl teams. So Lovato is a Pro Bowler because his peers think he’s the best at the job. Ravens long snapper Morgan Cox is the AFC representative. 

The idea to allow voting for long snappers began earlier this season in a group text among NFL long snapper — yes, that exists — and it came to fruition sooner than anyone expected. Lovato credited Giants long snapper and NFLPA vice president Zak DeOssie for helping to get voting on the table for this season. 

Still, Lovato initially thought it wouldn’t be in place until 2020. But it happened for this season and he’s heading to the Pro Bowl in a few weeks as one of five representatives from the Eagles, along with Brandon Brooks, Fletcher Cox, Jason Kelce and Zach Ertz. 

As you heard those names on Tuesday night, you probably weren’t surprised by Brooks or Cox or Kelce or Ertz … and then there was Lovato. 

What the heck? 

It seems strange to have a long snapper from a 7-7 team make it to the Pro Bowl, but Lovato said he had been keeping track of how well other long snappers from around the league had been performing and he thought he had a chance. 

Lovato actually has five special teams tackles this season. That’s more than just four other Eagles. 

That’s the stuff guys in the know notice. 

“It’s other specialists around the league and coaches who break down film,” Lovato said. “It’s not just how fast you throw the ball or how accurate you throw the ball. Those two things are definitely factors in how well guys do around the league but there’s blocking, there’s tackles, there’s protection, there’s how well your punter and kicker are doing. Cam and Jake had a great year this year as well. All those things matter when you’re talking about long snapping and considering a long snapper for the Pro Bowl.”

Lovato is now the third consecutive Eagles’ long snapper to make the Pro Bowl, following in the footsteps of Mike Bartrum (2005) and Jon Dorenbos (2009, 2014). Eventually, he’ll get his photo on the Pro Bowl wall inside the NovaCare Complex. 

“It was just a shot in the dark,” Lovato said, “but I had a great year and people thought that as well, which is awesome.”

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Eagles' Zach Ertz, Fletcher Cox extend Pro Bowl streaks

Eagles' Zach Ertz, Fletcher Cox extend Pro Bowl streaks

Fletcher Cox and Zach Ertz, two of the best in the business for years at their positions, have extended their remarkable Pro Bowl streaks.

Cox, the Eagles’ first-round pick in 2012, is headed to his fifth straight Pro Bowl and Ertz to his third straight.

They’re among five Eagles who learned Tuesday evening they’re headed to the Pro Bowl.

Offensive linemen Brandon Brooks and Jason Kelce both were named to their third Pro Bowl team and long snapper Rick Lovato is a first-time Pro Bowler.

Ertz has 84 catches for 888 yards and six touchdowns in 14 games. Over the last six weeks, he has 47 receptions for 544 yards. He leads the NFL during that span with five TDs and ranks third in catches, behind Michael Thomas and Christian McCaffrey.

Although he’s off pace from his NFL-record 116 receptions last year, Ertz leads NFC tight ends in receptions, yards and touchdowns. League-wide, he’s second to Travis Kelce (86 catches) in receptions, third in yards and second in TDs.

Ertz has increased his career total to 521 catches, most in NFL history by a tight end in his first seven seasons and 13th-most all-time by a tight end.

His streak of five straight seasons with 70 catches is third-longest ever by a tight end behind Tony Gonzalez (11) and Jason Witten (7) and tied with Kelce.

He’s the only player in Eagles history to catch 70 passes for 700 yards in five straight seasons, and only Jordan Matthews and Irving Fryar (two apiece) have done it more than once.

Since 2013, his rookie year, Ertz has the 9th-most catches in the NFL and 16th-most yards. Among tight ends, only Kele (496) and Jimmy Graham (429) are within 100 of Ertz during that span.

Ertz is the fourth Eagles tight end picked to three Pro Bowls, following Charle Young (1973-75), Keith Jackson (1988-90) and Chad Lewis (2000-02).

Cox added to his spectaular career resume Tuesday evening when he became just the eighth player in franchise history to make five consecutive Pro Bowls.

Cox hasn’t had a typical Cox season. He was slowed early on after undergoing offseason foot surgery. His 3.5 sacks so far are well below the 8.0 he averaged in his first four Pro Bowl seasons.

But even at not quite 100 percent, Cox is a force of nature at defensive tackle. He has 43 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 30 quarterbacks hurries and two forced fumbles. He’s missed just three of a possible 132 career games.

Here’s a look at all the Eagles in franchise history who’ve been picked to at least five straight Pro Bowls:

7 … DE Reggie White* [1986-92]
6 … E Pete Pihos* [1950-55]
5 … LB Chuck Bednarik* [1950-54]
5 … QB Donovan McNabb [2000-04]
5 … WR Mike Quick [1983-87]
5 … CB Troy Vincent [1999-03]
5 … DT Fletcher Cox [2015-19]
* - Hall of Famer

Cox is 7th in franchise history with 48.0 sacks, most ever by a defensive tackle. Both Brandon Graham (50.0) and Cox are within range of fifth-place Greg Brown (50 ½) and fourth-place Hugh Douglas (74 ½).

Cox is the most-decorated defensive tackle in Eagles history. Floyd Peters made Pro Bowls in 1964, 1966 and 1967, and Charlie Johnson was picked to three straight Pro Bowls from 1979 through 1981 and was a two-time all-pro. Both played before sacks became an official stat.

Lovato, a Central Jersey native who attended Middletown South High School in Monmouth County, joined the Eagles in the middle of 2016 after brief stints with the Packers and Redskins, replacing Pro Bowler Jon Dorenbos.

The 70th annual AFC-NFC Pro Bowl is scheduled for Jan. 27 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla.

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Eagles sign long snapper Rick Lovato to 4-year contract extension

Eagles sign long snapper Rick Lovato to 4-year contract extension

A few years ago, Rick Lovato was working in his family’s restaurant, Joyce’s Subs and Pizza, in Lincroft, New Jersey, just waiting for a chance.

He wasn’t the best at making pizza, but Lovato could make a mean breakfast sandwich. 

Maybe he still can, but Lovato won’t have to worry about picking up an apron again anytime soon. He’s in the middle of what might end up being a long and profitable NFL career. 

The Eagles on Tuesday signed the 27-year-old long snapper to a four-year extension that will keep him in Philadelphia through the 2023 season. 

Lovato has been playing this season on a one-year deal he signed in February and was scheduled to become a restricted free agent after this season. It’s worth noting that kicker Jake Elliott and punter Cameron Johnston are also in the final years of their contracts, so perhaps another move or two will be coming. 

While this deal won’t break the bank the way Brandon Brooks’ extension did last week, the Eagles seem interested right now in re-signing some players they want to keep around. 

The Eagles initially signed Lovato in December of 2016 after Jon Dorenbos broke his wrist. Lovato performed well enough that the Eagles traded Dorenbos the following August and made Lovato their full-time long snapper. 

Lovato has played in 45 regular-season games and five playoff games with the Eagles, including Super Bowl LII. He has a giant Lombardi Trophy tattooed on his side. 

Being a long snapper is kind of like being an offensive lineman in some ways. The less you hear about the long snapper, the more likely he’s performing well and not making mistakes. So, for Lovato’s sake, hopefully this is the last time you hear his name for a few years.  

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