With all of the Eagles' offseason additions, one improvement they can count on is at the tight end position.
The Eagles, after letting L.J. Smith sign with the Baltimore Ravens for close to the league minimum, have given Brent Celek free rein at the starting role.
It's addition by subtraction.
Smith was drafted out of Rutgers University in 2003 with the teams' second round pick. He was a promising player.
An athletic and big (6'3" 260 pounds) guy who, with seasoning, the team thought might be a threat in the passing game and was big enough to cause a disturbance when defenses unleashed the hounds and blitzed Donovan McNabb.
That hope would soon run in to a prayer, which would soon run into an afterthought. Smith didn't know how to block.
Either he didn't know, didn't care, or just couldn't. Any way you slice it, Smith was about as much help a blocking scheme as a rodent preoccupied with a carrot would be. Several times the tight end got beat; several times the team kept trying to remain patient with his progress.
Smith also had a problem with holding onto the ball. When you're a tight end and cannot block, you probably should be able to catch the football.
Nope. That wasn't in Smith's repertoire.
The Eagles ended up hanging onto the tight end because of his potential. He was the type of tight end that was too slow to run around players, and too weak to barrel through them. He thought he was a running back, and tried to make all of these moves to fake out tacklers.
They never fell for it.
Even last year, after he had been with the Eagles for six seasons, lined up in the wrong position on the field several times, burning timeouts for a squad that has trouble managing time as it is.
On top of all that, the tight end was often injured. The player missed 12 games since 2006.
That's a good reason to make the upgrade.
Now, the Eagles are looking at a sure thing. They know what they'll get with Brent Celek. He's a good player, he can make plays, and he's not about to try to be a player that he's not. Although he isn't known for his blocking either, Celek is a more reliable player.
They also drafted Cornelius Ingrim, who is more of an athletic freak that has more of a play making upside.
Now that they have given up with the failed project that was Smith, they can focus on upgrading the tight end position, and develop the younger Ingrim and Celek.
And maybe line up in the right position for once.
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