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SUNDAY NIGHT SPOTLIGHT

Brent Celek earning status as an elite tight end in NFL

He leads the Eagles in receptions with 37, and only three tight ends in the league have more yards than him.

November 08, 2009|Sam Farmer

For years, the Philadelphia Eagles didn't have to look far to find some of the best receiving tight ends in football. They just had to glance around the NFC East -- Chris Cooley in Washington, Jason Witten in Dallas and Kevin Boss with the New York Giants.

Now, the Eagles have one of their own.

In his third and most productive season, Brent Celek leads the team with 37 receptions and is quickly earning a reputation as Philadelphia's most dangerous tight end since Keith Jackson, who played 20 years ago.

The thing that's especially impressive about Celek is his determination to fight for yards after making the catch. As the Dallas Cowboys will be reminded tonight, he's relentless.

"As a defensive player, you see a guy like that fight for extra yards, not being a coward and getting down, and you respect him," Eagles teammate Sheldon Brown told reporters recently. "He's definitely a defensive-minded guy."

Only three NFL tight ends have more yards this season than Celek's 447: Dallas Clark of Indianapolis, Antonio Gates of San Diego and Owen Daniels of Houston, who is finished for the season.

Witten has as many catches, but 99 yards fewer and one touchdown to Celek's three.

Celek told reporters he regularly watches Witten to pick up tips for his own game.

"I just try to learn some things from him, especially within the league because he's played these teams week in and week out for so many years," said the Eagles standout, in his third season from the University of Cincinnati.

Celek began to emerge in the 2008 postseason, when in three games he had 19 catches for 151 yards and three touchdowns.

So has he emerged as the division's best tight end? Celek first tossed that question back to reporters, before finally giving in.

"I think I am, but that's just me," he told them. "If I didn't think that way, then I don't think I should be playing in the NFL."

-- Sam Farmer

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