By Harvey Hoffman
Tomorrow’s Eagles-Raiders game in Vegas will be the first time since 2012 the Birds roster won’t include the great tight end Zach Ertz, who was traded eight days ago to the Cards.
And it will also be the first game tight end Dallas Goedert steps up as a full-time starter.
“I’m looking forward to the opportunity in front of me and making the most of it,” Goedert told the Eagles web site a day after he was cleared from the Reserve/COVID-19 list and took part in his first practice since before the team’s win in Carolina.
General Manager Howie Roseman let Goedert know about the Ertz trade and had a special message for Goedert:
“He just said, ‘Really excited for you. I’m excited for you to be the guy, the one tight end who is in there all the time, the three-down tight end that I think I can be.’ Really excited for me,” said Goedert, who said he felt sore and tired and very, very bored during his time away from the team. “I’m stepping into a little bit more of a leadership role in the tight end room and in the locker room as a whole. I’ve always been waiting for this. I want to be able to play every play. I want to be a three-down tight end.”
Goedert, in the final year of his rookie contract, and Ertz split reps in the last three-plus seasons and were extremely productive as a duo. Individually, Goedert’s numbers were healthy in 2018 and 2019 when he caught 33 and 58 passes, playing 48 and 66 percent of the offensive snaps, respectively. Last season, Goedert played in 11 games, with nine starts, and caught 46 passes for 524 yards and three touchdowns. In five games this season, Goedert has 15 receptions for 216 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
The Eagles also want to see what they have behind Goedert with an interesting mix of younger players and an older one who has been around for some time here. Rookie Jack Stoll is the No. 2 tight end for Sunday’s game at the Raiders, and young prospect Tyree Jackson – who transitioned from quarterback at the University of Buffalo to tight end here and wowed observers in Training Camp – is on Injured Reserve recovering from a back injury suffered in the summer and returned to the practice field this week as his 21-day window to the return to the 53-man roster opened.
Second-year man Noah Togiai is on the practice squad along with veteran Richard Rodgers, who is able to step right in and help the team week to week. But, for now, Goedert is the centerpiece of the new era at tight end.
“For me, it will be easier to get into the flow of the game, stay in the flow of the game, and I’ll just have more plays,” Goedert said. “Even plays that aren’t designed for me, I can set up other plays that might be coming along. This is something I’ve been waiting for and I’m going to take advantage of my chances.”