Eagles Wake-Up Call: Iron-Man Celek

Philadelphia Eagles tight end Brent Celek.Brent Celek‘s eyes started darting around the room the moment the topic was broached. He looked to his left, to his right,  and finally behind him before finding what he needed. He stepped over to the piece of wood inside his locker, knocked twice, and then let out a “C’Mon, man!”

The question: Have you ever missed a game?

The answer following the initial unrest: No.

Well, not since grade school anyway.

“The last time I missed a game was in the sixth grade. I dislocated my elbow,” said Celek. “I popped it back in myself. I scored a touchdown on the play…It was just reaction. I just hit it and it popped back in. And when I popped it back in it broke.”

The coaches at St. Ignatius undoubtedly appreciated his level of commitment. Same for the staff at LaSalle High School in Ohio, and then the University of Cincinnati. Dozens upon dozens of games, and he played every one. And he definitely wasn’t pain free for the entire ride.

“Yeah, there are some injuries that have been bad. I dislocated my shoulder once — that was probably the worst one that I had just because I got a stinger and then I dislocated my shoulder, so I was kind of messed up. That was in college,” said Celek. “But I still played.”

His streak at the professional level is getting pretty impressive as well. Celek has played in 88 straight games since being drafted in the fifth round by the Eagles back in 2007. Only three other tight ends (Jason Witten, Jeff King and Tony Gonzalez) currently have a longer streak going.

The worst injury he has played through on the professional level was a shoulder tear his rookie season.

“It would dislocate every single game,” he said.

There was the sports hernia and the torn labrum in his left hip that required surgery back in January. And countless other dings along the way.

“Listen, I’ve been lucky. I haven’t had any major injuries. The injuries I’ve had are kind of toughness things — you have to be able to play through them,” said Celek.

The 27-year-old is second to only Pete Retzlaff for most receptions in yards by a tight end in  franchise history.  This is probably his most impressive stat: He is tops among  tight ends in yards after the catch since 2009 (1,397), ahead of Witten (1,348) and Vernon Davis (1,284), per Stats Inc.

Celek has 33 catches for 436 yards with a touchdown this season. He has cooled following a hot start and has dropped some critical passes in recent weeks. To his credit, he has owned every misstep that he has taken this year.

Accountability has really been his calling card as a football player  — on any level.

“Oh man, I hate it,” said Celek of the idea of missing a game. “Just being with the guys, you feel like if you’re not out there you’re letting them down. That’s what it comes down to for me, I don’t want to let anybody else down.”

WHAT YOU MISSED

LeSean McCoy returned to practice but has yet to kick his bug. Here’s the latest on the injury news.

Sheil hands out grades for the offense and defense at the midway point. You guessed it: straight A’s!

Michael Vick is still trying to keep the faith.

Jon Gruden likes what he sees in Nick Foles.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Ron Jaworski has dropped Vick from 12th to 18th in his latest power rankings.

The drop might be a little unfair for a number of reasons, but none bigger than the offensive line. Vick’s protection has been dreadful. Through eight games, Vick has been knocked to the ground 134 times. That’s almost 17 times a game. QBs can’t take that kind of beating. Sometimes it’s on him for running downfield, but the line has really been horrible. Maybe it’s the pressure from the defense, or the circumstances in Philly, but the decision-making isn’t there for Vick either. On the opening play Monday night, the Eagles designed a beautiful play — a deep corner route. Jeremy Maclin was wide open on a crossing route, but instead Vick threw to DeSean Jackson in double coverage deep. It’s those decisions that trouble me. When you get a play like that, you have got to hit it. Vick is leaving a lot of plays out there.

Peter King likes the Cowboys over the Eagles, 23-18.

Wanted to ask my SI.com boss, Tom Mantzouranis, if it would be OK if I passed on picking this game because I don’t like either team. Because America breathlessly awaits my wisdom on every game on the slate, I figured he’d say no. Well, I’m going with Dallas, because the Eagles gave a perfect blueprint for how to beat them last week in New Orleans: Rush Mike Vick into oblivion, and hand his brother a Twitter account.

Only three of the 12 experts at ESPN are siding with the Eagles.

COMING UP

The Eagles have a mock game in the morning. We’ll continue to get you ready for Dallas.

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  • daggolden

    Reports are that Celek is getting old real fast. He is big and as tough as they come at the position but his body is taking a pounding. I love the way Celek plays the position but unfortunatley all them big shots take thier toll. His pass protection this year has taken a step back and been horendous. Would love to see him on a offense where he didnt have to pass protect as much.

  • Brad

    Frustrating part of all of this is that last year, once we figured out that Celek should be involved in the offense, we started winning games. This year, we started off looking for him often and won games. Now, he is an afterthought again, and we can’t win games. Hmmmmm……

  • Cranky Caucasian

    This season he’s more like Iron-Hands. It’s lower down, but TE is on my shopping list for next season.

  • UncleCarm

    Celek’s body of work for the Eagles has been outstanding. I choose to see the recent drops as a rough patch, that he will overcome. Sometimes when you try to do too much and start thinking too much, you make mistakes. I’m still optimistic and thin its way too early to give up on him.

  • Jwise

    Did u mean Iron Hands?

  • Wilbert M.

    You could tolerate Celek’s drops if he wasn’t such a poor blocker. It’s hard to understand how a guy with his size and agility can’t block better. He doesn’t need to block like Jason Peters, but he needs to at least get in a guys way for a couple seconds, and he doesn’t seem to be able to do that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dave.alcock.777 Dave Alcock

    I like celek but you need more from your te. After you watch players like Heath miller get the job done year after year. Your te needs to makes those clutch plays, and help with the blocking, which unfortunately celek doesn’t do well enough.

    • JofreyRice

      He’s a frustrating player for me, because he mixes clutch drops or fumbles in with really great catches, and physical run after the catch plays. An OK player, but too inconsistent. With all the problems the Eagles have, we can roll with him for awhile, but he’s probably always going to have those disappointing moments.

      • http://www.facebook.com/tim.stocks.9 Tim Stocks

        @JofreyRice:disqus You have no idea what you are talking about. How many fumbles has Celek had since he played for the Eagles? Just one….and it happened this week. You know how many fumbles Celek had in college…0. He is extremely reliable. He is the only good player we have on the Eagles right now besides Jackson.

        • JofreyRice

          You’re right, I did overstate the case of his fumbling. But “extremely reliable”!? Laughable! Besides verifying Celek’s fumble stats, you have been watching the actual games, right?