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Replacing DeSean: More Zach Ertz, please

Replacing DeSean: More Zach Ertz, please

82 receptions, 1,332 yards receiving, nine touchdowns; that’s what the Philadelphia Eagles must replace in the NFL’s No. 2 offense after the release of DeSean Jackson. Where’s it supposed to come from? Not necessarily from any one player. In this four part series, we examine whose roles will increase as a result of the move. [ Part 1: Jeremy Maclin ][ Part 2: Darren Sproles ]

There was a lot of talk about how prevalent the tight end position was going to be in Chip Kelly’s offense when the head coach first arrived in Philadelphia. The Eagles quickly signed James Casey to a free-agent contract, then proceeded to spend the 35th overall pick on Zach Ertz out of Stanford.

We even saw a formation that put as many as four tight ends on the field at one time in a preseason game.

Once the regular season got underway though, Kelly didn’t go as heavy on tight ends as many presumed he would. The Eagles used 11 personnel—one back, one tight end, three wide receivers—roughly 75 percent of the time in 2013, often more than that earlier in the year.

It’s safe to say there should be an increase in the use of tight ends moving forward, if for no other reason than out of necessity. The Birds will surely draft a receiver, but there’s no telling how much a rookie will be ready to contribute from day one, and while there are some viable No. 3 candidates already on the roster, likely nobody that absolutely must be on the field.

Of course, the expansion of the tight ends’ role in Kelly’s offense should also be organic to an extent. The simple fact of the matter is Ertz demands more playing time based on his performance down the stretch last season.

In nine games from November on through the playoffs, Ertz was a beast, pulling down 25 receptions for 290 yards (11.6 AVG) and five touchdowns. Bear in mind he was still playing fewer than 50 percent of the offensive snaps, while games such as the Snow Bowl and a 54-11 blowout of the Chicago Bears naturally made for fewer opportunities to have an impact.

Ertz’s emergence in the second half came as no surprise. He’s an obvious matchup problem at 6’5”, 250 pounds with 4.68 speed—a smooth route-runner as well, particularly for a first-year player.

There’s no limit to what Kelly can do with Ertz in his offense. He can line up as a traditional in-line tight end or in the slot, as has become popular around the league. There were even instances where Ertz was lined up outside the numbers.

The key is getting Ertz on the field, only not necessarily at the expense of Brent Celek. While the seven-year veteran experienced a dramatic dip in overall production, he made his presence felt as one of the best blocking tight ends in the NFL, particularly in the running game.

And although Celek’s 32 receptions and 502 yards were his lowest since taking over as starter, it wasn’t apparent that was due to any decline in his ability. 15.7 yards per reception was a personal best by over two yards, six touchdowns the second-highest total of his career.

With Jackson out of the picture, and no clear-cut No. 3 receiver, there is definitely room for both Celek and Ertz in the offense going forward.

Ertz wound up finishing the ’13 campaign with 36 catches, 469 yards and four touchdowns, which is better than all but a handful of active tight ends can say for their rookie seasons. Those numbers compare favorably and in most cases are better than the likes of Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez, Jimmy Graham, Jason Witten and Vernon Davis when they were pups, to name a few.

Not bad company. Not bad at all.

To be fair, it’s impossible to project exactly what Ertz’s ceiling is or exactly what type of figures he’ll post next season. Just because a player had a better rookie year than some multi-time Pro Bowlers/Hall of Fame types doesn’t guarantee he’ll ascend to that level himself.

That being said, if last season was any indication, Ertz has the potential to make a push for the 1,000-yard mark and/or double-digit touchdowns. All he needs is the opportunity, which it seems obvious he’ll have… and then some.

CSNPhilly Internship - Advertising/Sales

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CSNPhilly Internship - Advertising/Sales

Position Title: Intern
Department: Advertising/Sales
Company: Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia
# of hours / week: 10 – 20 hours

Deadline: November 20

Basic Function

This position will work closely with the Vice President of Sales in generating revenue through commercial advertisements and sponsorship sales. The intern will gain first-hand sales experience through working with Sales Assistants and AEs on pitches, sales-calls and recapping material.

Duties and Responsibilities

• Assist Account Executive on preparation of Sales Presentations
• Cultivate new account leads for local sales
• Track sponsorships in specified programs
• Assist as point of contact with sponsors on game night set up and pre-game hospitality elements.
• Assist with collection of all proof of performance materials.
• Perform Competitive Network Analysis
• Update Customer database
• Other various projects as assigned

Requirements

1. Good oral and written communication skills.
2. Knowledge of sports.
3. Ability to work non-traditional hours, weekends & holidays
4. Ability to work in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment
5. Must be 19 years of age or older
6. Must be a student in pursuit of an Associate, Bachelor, Master or Juris Doctor degree
7. Must have unrestricted authorization to work in the US
8. Must have sophomore standing or above
9. Must have a 3.0 GPA

Interested students should apply here and specify they're interested in the ad/sales internship.

About NBC internships

NFL Notes: Court sets hearing over blocked suspension of Ezekiel Elliott

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NFL Notes: Court sets hearing over blocked suspension of Ezekiel Elliott

FRISCO, Texas -- A federal appeals court has set oral arguments for Oct. 2 in the NFL's bid to reinstate Ezekiel Elliott's six-game suspension over a domestic case in Ohio, meaning the star Dallas Cowboys running back will play at least two more games.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans posted the notice Friday, clearing the way for last year's NFL rushing leader to play Monday night at Arizona and at home Oct. 1 against the Los Angeles Rams.

The court is seeking briefs from both sides by Wednesday on the issue of U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant's jurisdiction. The Texas judge granted Elliott's request for an injunction that blocked the NFL's suspension.

The NFL sought an emergency stay of Mazzant's injunction, hoping to put the suspension back in place while Elliott's case is in the courts.

Giants: Goodson, Hart out against Eagles
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Middle linebacker B.J. Goodson and right tackle Bobby Hart are going to miss the New York Giants game Sunday against the Eagles in Philadelphia.

Goodson is out for the second straight game with a shin injury. Hart sprained his right ankle in the opener against Dallas. He started against Detroit but re-injured it.

Coach Ben McAdoo said Friday that backup linebacker J.T. Thomas also is out with a groin injury.

Tight end Evan Engram (concussion) and cornerback Janoris Jenkins (ankle) are questionable for the Giants (0-2).

Receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is not mentioned on the injury report, which means that he will play. He missed the season opener with a sprained left ankle and was limited against the Lions.

Vikings: Bradford ruled out against Bucs
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings say quarterback Sam Bradford will not play against Tampa Bay because of his ailing left knee.

Bradford was not at practice Friday after taking part in a limited basis Wednesday and Thursday and reporting progress from the week before.

ESPN reported that Bradford was traveling to seek a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews, the noted orthopedist who performed ligament reconstructions on the quarterback's knee in 2013 and 2014. Vikings coach Mike Zimmer declined to comment on the report.

Case Keenum will start Sunday against the Buccaneers, as he did last week at Pittsburgh when Bradford was ruled out right before the game. The Vikings lost 26-9 (see full story).

Titans: Murray limited at practice, questionable vs. Seahawks
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee Pro Bowl running back DeMarco Murray returned to practice, but his status for Sunday's game against Seattle remains undecided because of a hamstring injury.

Murray was listed as questionable after being limited on Friday. He had missed two straight practices with the injury.

The running back who led the AFC in rushing last season has been off to a slow start this season with just 69 yards rushing in two games. He gave way in the second half to Derrick Henry, who had 92 yards and a touchdown in a 37-16 victory at Jacksonville.

Titans coach Mike Mularkey says the Titans are being careful with Murray. They already declared rookie receiver Corey Davis and strong safety Johnathan Cyprien out with hamstring injuries.

Murray declined to comment after practice (see full story).

Browns: Garrett 'doubtful' to play Colts but nearing return
CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Browns rookie defensive end Myles Garrett might be close to making his NFL debut.

The top overall pick in this year's draft has missed Cleveland's first two games because of a high right-ankle sprain. Coach Hue Jackson has not yet ruled him out of Sunday's game at Indianapolis.

Garrett made significant progress this week after hurting his ankle during practice Sept. 6. Jackson said Friday the team will continue to be "cautious," but the fact that he remains a possibility to play against the Colts is encouraging. Garrett is listed as "doubtful" on the injury report.

The 6-foot-4, 275-pounder has stressed he won't come back too early. He missed two games during his junior season at Texas A&M, pushed himself to return and then didn't play up to his standards.

Garrett had an impressive training camp and exhibition season (see full story).

Redskins: Norman, Reed game-time decisions vs. Raiders
ASHBURN, Va. -- Cornerback Josh Norman, tight end Jordan Reed and running back Rob Kelley are among five Washington Redskins players who will be game-time decisions Sunday night against the Oakland Raiders.

Redskins coach Jay Gruden says Friday that Norman, Reed, Kelley, linebacker Mason Foster and safety Montae Nicholson are all questionable for the game.

Norman, Foster and Nicholson have shoulder injuries, Reed has chest and rib problems, while Kelley is dealing with injured rib cartilage.

All five were hurt during last weekend's 27-20 victory at the Los Angeles Rams.

Gruden said there is a chance the Redskins (1-1) would have running back Mack Brown and tight end Jeremy Sprinkle on the active roster against the Raiders (2-0) (see full story).