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.”

Michael Vick's father arrested on drug-ring charges

Michael Vick's father arrested on drug-ring charges

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — The father of former pro-football star Michael Vick has been arrested on charges of being involved in a drug ring.

The Virginian-Pilot reports that federal authorities arrested 55-year-old Michael Dwayne Boddie on Thursday. A federal indictment unsealed Wednesday in Newport News alleges that he and 11 others conspired to sell heroin.

Boddie is being held without bond until a Monday detention hearing. He was assigned a court-appointed attorney.

Lawrence Woodward, an attorney who's represented both men over the years, did not respond to requests for comment. The federal prosecutor's office declined to comment on the case beyond the charges.

Vick rose to stardom with the Atlanta Falcons before serving prison time for running a dogfighting operation. He played for the Eagles, Jets and Steelers before announcing his retirement in February.

NFL Notes: Chiefs extend Andy Reid, part ways with GM John Dorsey

NFL Notes: Chiefs extend Andy Reid, part ways with GM John Dorsey

The Chiefs have given coach Andy Reid a contract extension and parted ways with general manager John Dorsey, making two massive decisions on what is typically a quiet week in the offseason.

The 59-year-old Reid was entering the final year of the five-year deal he signed in 2013, shortly after the end of his long and mostly successful tenure in Philadelphia. Reid is 43-21 with three playoff appearances in four seasons in Kansas City, helping to deliver an AFC West title last season.

Less than an hour after his extension was announced, the Chiefs said Dorsey -- who was hired to work in tandem with Reid -- would not be retained. Dorsey was also entering the final year of his contract.

The Chiefs did not say who would take over the GM duties on an interim basis (see full story).

Raiders: Derek Carr agrees to $125M extension
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Raiders quarterback Derek Carr has finalized a five-year contract extension that will keep him tied to the team through the 2022 season.

Carr tweeted Thursday that an agreement had been reached to add five years to his current rookie deal that expires after this season. The contract will be worth $125 million, according to a person familiar with the deal who spoke on condition of anonymity because terms were not released.

Both sides had expressed a strong interest in signing a long-term deal with Carr, who was scheduled to enter the final year of his rookie contract.

Carr had imposed a deadline of the start of training camp in late July (see full story).

Patriots: Mitchell has  deal with Scholastic Books
NEW YORK -- New England Patriots wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell can be sweet when he wants to be.

Mitchell has a three-book deal with Scholastic, the children's publisher told The Associated Press on Thursday. The books include a newly illustrated edition of his self-published "The Magician's Hat," to come out next May, and two more original works.

Mitchell is a literacy advocate who founded the "Read With Malcolm" program. With New England, Mitchell caught 32 passes last year during the regular season and another six in the Super Bowl, when the Patriots came from behind and defeated the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 (see full story).