Zach Ertz, destined for greatness?
Michael Vick thinks so.
"Since the first day that kid walked in here I just felt that there was something special about him," said Vick in a conversation with Birds 24/7. "I just like to be around him. I like playing with him. I like having him out on the field.
"There are three players that I told that they would be great players in this league: I always told Alge Crumpler that he was going to be great, I always told Shady McCoy that he was going to be a great player in this league, and I always told Roddy White. And now I'm saying Zach Ertz. And I think in time, he will be one of the best tight ends in this game."
Vick pointed to the rookie's understanding of the game, passion, and ability to beat man coverage as some of the reasons why he is so high on him.
Told about Vick's comments, Ertz was flattered.
"That's quite an honor. He's played with so many great players," said Ertz. "To have him say that about me is very humbling. It's going to make me work harder. I don't want to make him look bad so I'm going to keep pushing every day, and I'm just going to try and become that great player."
Ertz said that he's never had a left-handed quarterback before, which was an adjustment early on. Even so, he said that he and Vick found that they were on the same page from a football perspective right out of the gates.
The tight end's playing time is on the rise. He saw a career-high 31 snaps against Denver, finishing with one catch for 38 yards. He has five catches on the season for 112 yards for an average of 22.4 yards per reception.
Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur was asked how close Ertz is to becoming more of a fixture in this offense.
"Well, he is a fixture in the offense. He plays," said Shurmur. "Anybody that's active on offense, we trust them when we put them in the ballgame. And some guys play more than others.
"I think Zach learned something new every day when he's out here. He's a young player, much like Lane Johnson. He has his good plays and bad. We feel like he can do some really fine things in the passing game, and he's becoming a better blocker."
Late in the game against the Broncos, when things were out of hand, the television cameras panned to a shot of Vick next to Ertz on the bench. The animated QB was doing all the talking, while the young buck nodded his head.
"He's forgotten more about football than I know, so I'm just trying to learn as much as I can from him," said Ertz. "He's a heck of a leader. I don't think he gets enough credit from that standpoint for how good of a leader he really is."
Vick obviously sees the potential in the No. 35 overall pick out of Stanford. And he could surely use another weapon in this offense. Is he pushing the coaches to give him more playing time?
"No. I understand in this offense and in the NFL there is a growth process that you have to go through," said Vick. "There's no need to rush him. He'll get his time out there. He'll get his catches. He'll make an impact for this team."
And he's confident that his prediction will come true.
"I'm going four-for-four," Vick said.
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