Notre Dame TE Eifert drawing opponents' interest

Notre Dame TE Eifert drawing opponents' interest

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert has had to work a lot harder this year to accomplish a lot less personally, discovering that being the best receiver on the field draws a lot more attention.

Defenders are double teaming him and forcing him out of his routes, making it harder to be as productive as last season when he set the school record for catches by a tight end with 63. He was held without a catch against Michigan State, had just one against Michigan and two against Miami, a span where sometimes his contribution came as more of a blocker than a receiver.

The soft-spoken senior from Fort Wayne doesn't let it faze him, though. After mulling a decision to turn pro after last season, he's just happy to be part of the unbeaten fifth-ranked Fighting Irish (6-0) as they prepare to play Brigham Young (4-3) on Saturday.

``It's just nice to be winning,'' he said. ``I'd rather come back and be winning than losing. But either way I would have been happy to be back.''

The Irish could use a big game by Eifert against the Cougars, who rank third in the country in rushing defense at 68 yards a game.

Eifert hasn't let the lack of production frustrate him, saying it simply isn't his style. He said he learned that last season from watching receiver Michael Floyd, a first-round draft pick with the Arizona Cardinals. That's when Floyd was the focus of opposing defenses and Eifert flourished from being the guy who was getting single-coverage.

``You just keep playing. It's a long game. Be patient,'' Eifert said.

Linebacker Manti Te'o said his teammates notice Eifert's work ethic and lack of selfishness.

``He hasn't had the kind of receptions and numbers that he would like, but you never would see Tyler complaining. As long as we're winning, he's happy,'' Te'o said. ``He leads by example. He leads by his work ethic, and just really, really doing his best to ensure that our team wins.''

While the number of catches he is making this season has dropped, the plays he is making have been big. Eifert has only 15 catches this season, yet 10 of those have been for first downs or touchdowns.

Against Stanford, Eifert tied the score at 10-10 on the first play of the fourth-quarter with a 24-yard TD reception on third-and-18 where he used his 6-foot-6 height to get above a pair of 6-1 Stanford defenders to catch the pass from Everett Golson. His only reception against Michigan was a 38-yard catch on a third-and-4 that allowed Notre Dame to run out the clock and make sure Michigan, which had won three straight games in the final 27 seconds, didn't get a chance for a comeback.

He also had four catches for a career-high 98 yards in a victory over Purdue, where his father was a former basketball standout.

Coach Brian Kelly said he's enjoyed watching Eifert develop from being a quiet player who sat in the back of the room into one of the best players on the team who sits up front and is a leader.

``You know you're moving your program along when your best players are your best workers,'' Kelly said.

Eifert continues a growing list of standout tight ends at Notre Dame that includes former second-round draft picks Anthony Fasano and John Carlson and Kyle Rudolph in the past seven years.

If Eifert can raise his productivity a bit he can break the school record of 128 career receptions by a tight end set by Ken MacAfee from 1974-77. Eifert has 105 career catches now.

``That would be pretty amazing when you really think about it,'' he said.

Quick Links

Need to Know: The best pass rushers the Redskins will face in 2018

USA Today Sports Images

Need to Know: The best pass rushers the Redskins will face in 2018

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, July 19, seven days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The five best pass rushers the Redskins will face in 2018

This week we’ll be looking at the best of what the Redskins will face during the 2018 season. Today the pass rushers are up. They are roughly ranked by Pro Football Focus’ pass rush productivity metric, although I did some juggling based on offseason moves and other factors. Prior to this we looked at the best teamsreceivers,running backs, and quarterbacks

1. Calais Campbell, Jaguars—If he gets a sack against the Redskins in Week 15, many fans will once again rue draft day in 2008 when the Redskins took both WR Devin Thomas and TE Fred Davis in the second round while Campbell was still on the board. He has been a consistent pass rusher since coming into the league, averaging eight sacks a season. Campbell is coming off of a career-high 14.5. 

2. Demarcus Lawrence, Cowboys—He had nine career sacks going into last year and then he broke out in a big way with 14.5. He got three sacks against the Redskins last year and has five in six career games. He actually ranked ahead of Campbell in the PFF pass rush metric, but I put Campbell ahead of him because we’re not sure if Lawrence is a great pass rusher or if he just peaked in his contract year. 

3. Chandler Jones, Cardinals—He posted double-digit sacks in four of the last five years including a league-leading 17 last season. His 2017 performance earned him first-team All-Pro honors for the first time in his career. Jones does more than get sacks. He has 16 career forced fumbles; only five players have forced more since he came into the league in 2012.

4. J.J. Watt, Texans—Injuries have limited him to eight games over the past two seasons. Even if the missed time has him beneath his peak years of 2012-2015, when he was first-team All-Pro every year and defensive player of the year three times, he will be difficult to deal with. 

5. Brian Orakpo, Titans—His career with the Redskins was a mixed bag, with two Pro Bowls and two seasons with double-digit sacks. After Orakpo missed 23 games from 2012-2015, the Redskins didn’t make him a competitive contract offer and he left to sign with the Titans. He hasn’t missed a game in three seasons in Tennessee and has averaged eight sacks per season. 

Best of the rest: Yannick Ngakoue, Jaguars; Clay Matthews, Packers; Vic Beasley, Falcons; Jason Pierre-Paul, Buccaneers; Cam Jordan, Saints

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

Tandler on Instagram

Post up on #Redskins

A post shared by Rich Tandler (@richtandler) on


Redskins six-time Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams was born on this date in 1988.

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 7
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 21
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 44

The Redskins last played a game 200 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 52 days. 

In case you missed it

Quick Links

Alex Ovechkin takes home ESPY for Best Male Athlete Award

USA Today Sports Images

Alex Ovechkin takes home ESPY for Best Male Athlete Award

Alexander Ovechkin's offseason continues to be one for the books. 

Just a week removed from celebrating with the Stanley Cup in Moscow, Ovechkin was named Best Male Athlete Wednesday night at the 2018 ESPYs. 

The 32-year-old is the first NHL player to win the award since it was first introduced in 1993. 

"The Great Eight" beat out Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros, James Harden of the Houston Rockets and Tom Brady of the New England Patriots. 

Ovechkin was not in Los Angeles to accept the award.