Brent Celek appeared in 93 straight NFL games before a concussion forced him to sit out against the Bengals last December. That stopped an iron man streak that not only spanned his entire professional career, but his college and high school days as well.
“The last time I missed a game was in the sixth grade. I dislocated my elbow,” said Celek back in November. “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.”
There have been plenty of injuries to fight through since. He dislocated his shoulder while at Cincinnati. Sustained a shoulder tear his rookie season with the Eagles (“It would dislocate every single game,” he said). Suffered a sports hernia and a torn labrum in his hip. Got that concussion against the Bucs last year. And on and on…
The tolerance for pain and willingness to fight through it is obviously very admirable. But you wonder about the cumulative effect.
“At this point in my career, I just notice that I have to take care of my body a little bit differently than when I was younger,” said Celek a couple weeks back. “I’ve got to stay on top of things — stretch more, get more massages — you just don’t recover as you used to. It’s a little bit tougher in that aspect, but it’s something that I’m learning and I’m going to have to do it if I want to keep playing.
“I think it’s something that I have to do if I want to be able to play. I mean I started recognizing it last year, but especially with how many plays you run in practice now under Chip [Kelly], it’s definitely magnified. You definitely have to be on top of it for sure.”
Celek, a former fifth-round pick, is entering his seventh NFL season. The 28-year-old had a down year in 2012 — much like the rest of his teammates. He had 57 catches for 684 yards but dropped eight passes and found the end zone just once.
Kelly relies heavily on his tight ends and dedicates a lot of resources to the position. That was evident when he signed James Casey in free agency and used the 35th overall pick on Stanford’s Zach Ertz. Casey has been relegated to the stationary bike since having his knee scoped and Ertz wasn’t able to participate in OTAs and minicamp because his class had yet to graduate.
It was all Celek this spring, but that will change come training camp.
Kelly plans on using multiple tight-end sets and, with the high-tempo offense, he could very well rotate all three ends. For Celek, the challenge is to stay on top and stay fresh as the miles on the odometer pile up.
“I obviously don’t feel like I’m 20, 21 again,” said Celek, ” but I’m taking care of my body better than when I was 21. Over time I think this is good for me. I’m learning.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
Documentary sheds light on DeSean Jackson‘s journey.
DeSean expands on his quarterback comments.
Three things we have learned about the Eagles’ defense.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Adam Schefter weighs in on the Eagles’ quarterback competition.
Nick Foles is more in consideration than some people around the league expected…but I still believe Michael Vick prevails in the end. His skills would seem to translate more to Chip Kelly‘s offense. But to win the job, Vick will need to do certain things. He will need to protect the ball better than he has in the past and get the ball out of his hands faster. If he can work on and improve some of those things, there is no reason he shouldn’t come out as the Eagles’ Week 1 starter against the Washington Redskins.
Tommy Lawlor gives some thoughts on Jackson.
Kelly is going to be more demanding than Reid. DeSean is talented and will be held to a high standard. If DeSean buys in and does what is asked, he can thrive. This means blocking on run plays. This means catching short passes and being able to attack the middle, as well as outside. There will still be chances to go deep, but that’s a low percentage play and won’t be a major part of the offense.
We’ll make sure you get your fix.