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Eagles Training Camp Preview: The Tight Ends

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Photo Credit by Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles have no issues at the top of the depth chart at tight end with Dallas Goedert, who enters the 2022 season with a big-money extension in the rear-view mirror and an evolving reputation as one of the best two-way tight ends in the NFL.

From there, however, it gets a little shaky especially with Tyree Jackson, a highly-regarded developmental prospect within the organization, still rehabbing from a torn ACL in Week 18 of the 2021 season.

It was revealed that Jackson will start training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list for what is typically a nine-month injury. The 6-foot-7 former college quarterback suffered the injury on Jan. 8 and the Eagles’ season-opener is on Sept. 11 in Detroit, three days after that demarcation line.

With uncertainty surrounding Jackson, the Eagles’ have penciled in Jack Stoll, entering his second season as a former undrafted free agent, along with rookie sixth-round pick Grant Calcaterra as the potential backups.

Those two players complement each other in that Stoll’s strength is blocking and Calcaterra’s is receiving so there is a good chance that the Eagles will try to piecemeal things together when they use 12 personnel.

Goedert, meanwhile, is such a talented receiver at times you feel it’s a bit of a waste to keep him in line to block, although the addition of A.J. Brown at receiver has a domino effect when it comes to the passing game as a whole.

Nick Sirianni would often note that his passing game started with 6 (DeVonta Smith) and 88 (Goedert) last season although as the season wore on, it was Goedert who would become more of the security blanket for Jalen Hurts.

Moving forward, at least to start, the game-planning will start with 11 (Brown) and 6 before 88 as the third option. That said, the Eagles hope to have major contributions from all three in a much-improved passing game.

Stoll was solid as an undrafted rookie, playing 30% of the offensive snaps and holding up as blocker once Zach Ertz we dealt right before the deadline. The next step with Stoll is adding something as an outlet receiver so his presence doesn’t tip off the defense to a heavy slant toward the running game.

In many ways, Calcaterra is the opposite of that as a pure flex tight end who was a real solid prospect at one point at Oklahoma before concussions forced him away from the game. After learning more about head trauma, Calcaterra was convinced that he could continue playing in a safe manner and resumed his college career at SMU before ultimately being drafted by the Eagles.

The other interesting part to the position is J.J. Arcega-Whiteside moving from receiver to TE in a last-ditch effort to salvage something from the 2019 second-round disappointment. By all accounts, JJAW has embraced the position change and gained about 12 pounds to better handle the blocking aspect of flex work.

The one part of Arcega-Whiteside’s game at wideout that was never a concern was his blocking but moving positions in one’s fourth professional season is rarely going to turn out as something positive.

The break-glass-in-case-of-emergency player at TE remains savvy veteran Richard Rodgers, who doesn’t have the athleticism to get anyone excited but almost always provides a positive impact when he’s forced onto the field.

Depth Chart Entering TC:

TE1 Dallas Goedert; TE2 Jack Stoll; TE3 Grant Calcaterra; TE4 Richard Rodgers; TE5 J.J. Arcega-Whiteside; TE6 Noah Togiai

(PUP List: Tyree Jackson)

What’s Changed:

Adding Calcaterra and shifting JJAW from wide receiver are the two notable changes. It’s tough to count on sixth-round picks as any kind of money in the bank but Calcaterra’s upside is much higher than a typical prospect at that level because he was downgraded by his short concussion retirement by many. The Southern California native insists he’s completely healthy and the path is there for him to seize early playing time.

The August Angle:

Finding a true TE2 is at the forefront and everyone down to Noah Togiai should be given an opportunity in August to earn the job. It’s even possible that the team’s backup tight end isn’t even on the 90-man roster right now. As far as competition goes, however, this might be the best example of a true meritocracy in that the plan should be: best man wins.

Who Stays on the 53:

Goedert and Stoll are the no-brainers and Calcaterra has the inside track on the TE3 job with Jackson being the wild card. By placing Jackson on PUP to start camp, he’s got until Week 6 to prove he’s healthy enough to play this season but there’s also nothing to keep the rangy project away from Detroit in Week 1 or at least playing time early in the season if the rehab does indeed take only nine months.

PREVIOUS TRAINING CAMP PREVIEW PIECES:

Eagles Training Camp Preview: The Quarterbacks

Eagles Training Camp Preview: The Running Backs

Eagles Training Camp Preview: The Wide Receivers