Zach Ertz set for bigger role in Eagles' offense

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Zach Ertz set for bigger role in Eagles' offense

If the Eagles are going to make up for the loss of DeSean Jackson, they need Zach Ertz to live up to expectations. 

Drafted higher (35th overall) than any Eagles tight end since Keith Jackson in 1988, Ertz -- as a rookie -- caught 36 passes for 469 yards and four touchdowns last season. In the first half of the season, Ertz had 14 receptions for 201 yards. Second half: 22 for 268. 

The one glaring difference? Touchdowns. All four of his scores came after Week 8.

“I think you kind of saw [what I can do] in the second half of the season,” Ertz said after the Eagles OTA on Monday. “I was used all over the field, so hopefully it’s more of that.”

Chip Kelly’s offensive scheme requires players at the skill positions to be versatile. The Stanford product said he put a “huge emphasis” on his run blocking in the offseason to balance his pass catching ability that he admitted comes more naturally.

Ertz played 40.8 percent of the team’s snaps on offense last year, while starter Brent Celek played 76.5 percent.

Versatility is a necessity for the offense to play at its hallmark fast pace. In 2013, the Eagles went no-huddle 66.5 percent of the time, tops in the NFL, and had the shortest average time of possession per drive at 2:04.

“Brent and myself, I think we can line up all over the field,” Ertz said. “Obviously if you look at the two of us, he’s more of a traditional in-line tight end, but in this offense you have to be able to do both. I think that’s kind of what helps us with the speed of this offense.

“If you want to play fast, you can’t be subbing guys in and out. With the tight ends that we have, we’re able to do that whether it’s in-line or out wide as a receiver.”

Ertz won’t be alone in trying to make up for the production lost by DeSean's departure to D.C.

Jeremy Maclin, who is coming off of a torn ACL, and rookie receiver Jordan Matthews are entering their first full years in Kelly’s system, and Riley Cooper is looking to build on a career year in which he caught 47 passes for 835 yards and eight touchdowns.

At running back, the Eagles added more versatility in the offseason by trading for Darren Sproles and signing him to a three-year, $10.5 million contract.

Sproles, who caught 71 balls out of the backfield with the New Orleans Saints last year, will team up with LeSean McCoy, who had 52 catches for 539 yards on top of his career-high 1,607 yards on the ground.

“We’ve added a lot of new faces on offense, but at the end of the day a lot of the receivers and tight ends are interchangeable,” Ertz said. “Whether it is -- receivers, tight ends or running backs, you have to be able to play all over the field. That’s a big thing for me and everybody else.”

Carson Wentz named Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week

Carson Wentz named Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week

As Carson Wentz rolls out of bed, he wins an award. Brushes his teeth, wins an award. Eats breakfast, award.

This time, the Eagles' rookie quarterback has been named the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week for his performance against the Steelers in a 34-3 Week 3 win.

Against the Steelers, Wentz completed 23 of 31 passes for 301 yards, two touchdowns and a 125.9 passer rating. He beat out Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott, Browns CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun and teammate Wendell Smallwood.

This is the second time in three weeks that Wentz has been named the NFL Rookie of the Week.

Here are the awards Wentz has won so far this season:

- NFL Rookie of the Week for Week 1
- NFC Offensive Player of Week 3
- NFC Offensive Rookie of the Month for September
- NFL Rookie of the Week for Week 3

Wentz won't have any chances to win more awards this weekend as the Eagles are on their bye. They'll play again on Oct. 9 in Detroit.

NFL Notes: Browns plan to 'move on' from WR Josh Gordon

NFL Notes: Browns plan to 'move on' from WR Josh Gordon

BEREA, Ohio -- Browns coach Hue Jackson says the team has "moved on" from suspended wide receiver Josh Gordon.

A day after Gordon said he's entering rehab, Jackson made it clear the Browns have ended their relationship with the 25-year-old, whose off-field troubles have prevented him from building on a breakout season in 2013.

Jackson reiterated that the team supports Gordon, who was on the brink of returning from a four-game NFL suspension for his latest drug violation. Jackson said his focus needs to on "taking care of the players that are here." After fielding a few questions, Jackson, in his first year as Cleveland's coach, said he's done talking about Gordon and said the team "needs to close that chapter right now."

Gordon was eligible to return next week and could have played in the Oc. 9 game against New England (see full story).

Jets: WR Eric Decker out "week to week" with partially torn rotator cuff
FLORHAM PARK, N.J.  -- New York Jets wide receiver Eric Decker has a partially torn rotator cuff that will sideline him for the team's game against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.

Coach Todd Bowles announced Friday that Decker will be "week to week" with the shoulder injury.

Decker did not participate in practice all week.

Decker injured the shoulder against Buffalo on Sept. 15, but it worsened last Sunday during the Jets' loss at Kansas City. The wide receiver said after the game that the shoulder was sore, but an MRI revealed that it was worse than that (see full story).

Bills: WR Watkins placed on IR; to miss at least 8 weeks
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills receiver Sammy Watkins will miss at least eight weeks resting an injury to his surgically repaired left foot after the team placed him on the reserved-injured list.

The Bills announced the move on Friday afternoon, a few hours after coach Rex Ryan expressed "major concern" over the receiver missing significant time.

Watkins was already ruled out from playing at New England on Sunday, and missed last weekend's game against Arizona. He's been sidelined since a teammate stepped on his foot during a walk through session last week.

Buffalo's first-round pick in the 2014 draft missed much of the offseason after having two screws inserted into his foot to repair a stress fracture in April.

The Bills filled Watkins spot by claiming receiver Justin Hunter.