Most Likely Bird To Have Breakthrough Season?

Most Likely Bird To Have Breakthrough Season?

Continuing the theme from yesterday when we asked which member of the Eagles is the most vital heading into the 2010 campaign, today we want to know who you think is the most likely to bust the mold this upcoming season. This is a lot less clearly defined, as it can be somebody who makes the jump to the Pro Bowl, or simply a guy who develops into a capable, above average starter.

Kevin Kolb is once again an obvious choice. A 3,000 yard/20 TD campaign on a .500 or better team is going to shine the spotlight very bright on the first-year starter. Rookies are always a safe bet, too. Brandon Graham is being pegged by some as a Rookie of the Year candidate, and Nate Allen is currently penciled in to start at free safety.

I'm going to cheat a little though. There are a bunch of young, hungry players who can make huge leaps in 2010, but I'm going with somebody who's already begun to make his mark: Brent Celek.

You may think I'm a little late to the party on this one. His 76 catches last year for 971 yards and 8 touchdowns were all among the best in the league by a tight end. In his first full season as a starter, he nearly doubled his career totals. That, by its very definition, is a breakthrough.

Yet Celek didn't really get the attention he deserved for his terrific season. The biggest indicator is he was passed over for a spot in the Pro Bowl. Sure, that's no big deal and does nothing to tarnish his efforts, but the fact is he belonged there.

Brent Celek had a better season on paper than Cowboys' tight end Jason Witten, but the votes gave the nod to the perennial all star. They may have got it wrong though. Witten bested Celek in catches 94 to 76, but Celek made much more of an impact with the football, having a higher yards per catch (12.8 to 11.0) and scoring eight touchdowns to Witten's two.

Of course, Witten also excels as a blocker, which still gives him the nod as a better overall tight end, but the scary thing is Celek's numbers can increase with Kolb at the helm. The two were drafted together, worked together, even roomed together. They are extremely comfortable with one another, and it showed in Kolb's two starts last season. Celek had almost identical lines in each, going for 8 catches and 104 yards, plus a 35-yard touchdown versus the Chiefs.

Think about what they can do with a full season together. If Kolb is as good as Andy Reid thinks and we're all hoping, Brent Celek can ring up stats that Pro Bowl voters simply cannot ignore any longer.

Photo by Travis Lindquist / Getty Images

Best of MLB: Hyun Soo Kim's pinch HR gives Orioles win

Best of MLB: Hyun Soo Kim's pinch HR gives Orioles win

TORONTO -- Hyun Soo Kim hit a pinch-hit, two-run homer in the ninth inning off Roberto Osuna, and the Baltimore Orioles beat Toronto 3-2 on Wednesday night to move within one game of the AL wild card-leading Blue Jays.

With Toronto ahead 2-1, Jonathan Schoop singled with one out, pinch-runner Michael Bourn stole second and Kim homered on a 3-2 pitch into the visiting bullpen in right, causing the Orioles relievers to jump in celebration.

Osuna (3-3) has five blown save chances, including two in his last three appearances.

Mark Trumbo hit his major league-leading 46th home run, a solo drive off Jason Grilli in the eighth.

Brian Duensing (1-0) got one out, and Zach Britton finished for his 47th save in as many tries (see full recap).

Mets win to keep grip on wild-card spot
MIAMI -- The Marlins walked half a block alongside a hearse carrying their ace away from Marlins Park at the start of a funeral motorcade Wednesday, and then peeled away with watery eyes to go back inside and play a game.

Drained by four days of grieving, they didn't have much left for the New York Mets.

Jay Bruce hit his 32nd home run, James Loney also homered and the Mets helped their NL wild-card chances by beating Miami 5-2.

New York began the night leading the Giants by half a game and the Cardinals by 1 1/2 games in the race for the two wild-card spots. The Mets conclude the regular season with three games at Philadelphia starting Friday.

The Marlins' loss in their home finale eliminated them from playoff contention. Despite high hopes this year, they still haven't been to the postseason since 2003.

Set Lugo (5-2) went 5 1/3 innings and allowed two runs.

Jose Urena (4-9) allowed five runs in five innings (see full recap).

Cano's HR boosts Mariners' playoff hopes
HOUSTON -- Robinson Cano hit a three-run homer in the first inning, and the Seattle Mariners beat the Houston Astros 12-4 Wednesday to keep pressure on the other AL wild-card contenders.

Kyle Seager added another three-run drive in the eighth, his 30th home run this season, as Seattle pulled within 1 games of Baltimore for the second AL wild card. Houston dropped three games back as its magic number for elimination was cut to two. The Orioles were at Toronto on Wednesday night.

Cano's career-best 36th home run, a drive off Doug Fister (12-13), landed in the first row of the Crawford Boxes in left field. Cano has nine homers and 25 RBIs in 19 games against Houston this season (see full recap).

Instant Replay: Braves 12, Phillies 2

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The Associated Press

Instant Replay: Braves 12, Phillies 2

BOX SCORE

ATLANTA – The Phillies continued to stumble toward the season’s finish line on Wednesday night. They were hammered, 12-2, by the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.

Adam Morgan was bruised for 10 hits and nine runs in five innings.

The Phils have lost five of their last six games. They have given up 63 runs over that span.

The Phils have lost six straight to the Braves and are 16-35 in their last 51 games against the NL East.

With four games to play, the Phils are 70-88.

Starting pitching report
Morgan was hit hard early but had to give the Phils some innings as the bullpen has carried a heavy load lately. He finished the season 2-11 with a 6.04 ERA in 23 games, 21 of which were starts.

Atlanta’s Mike Foltynewicz picked up the win. He gave up just one run over five innings.

At the plate
The Phillies had just four hits. They have scored 599 runs this season. They are the only team in the majors not to reach 600.

The Braves had 13 hits, including six for extra bases. They were 5 for 11 with runners in scoring position.

Matt Kemp doubled and homered for the Braves.

Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman extended his hitting streak to 30 games. He has reached base safely in 46 straight games, tying Washington’s Jayson Werth for most this season.

ICYMI
Like Pete Mackanin, GM Matt Klentak sees a need for offense, but he remains committed to the team’s rebuild (see story).

Health check
Roman Quinn is likely done for the season. Aaron Nola is throwing in Florida (see story).

Up next
The series concludes on Thursday night. Jeremy Hellickson (12-10, 3.78) will make his final start of the season (and likely his final with the Phillies) against Atlanta right-hander Josh Collmenter (3-0, 4.19).

It will be the Phillies’ final appearance in Turner Field. The Braves move into a new park next season.

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