In today's "Five Minutes with Roob," Reuben Frank chats with Eagles tight end Zach Ertz:
Roob: We're in the dog days of training camp. How do you get through these long, hot practices every day?
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Ertz: It is camp, it is going to be a grind. You know that going into it. It's the hardest month of the year. (Unless you're a) football player, you don't know what the month of August truly is like. It's a physical camp, we're getting better, Doug (Pederson) is doing a good job of working us and I think we've had a good camp so far.
Roob: What do you remember about your rookie training camp back in 2013?
Ertz: It was rough. Really rough. Coming in, I wasn't able to come all spring because of the (NCAA) graduation rule and then I was going against guys like Trent Cole and Connor Barwin, and they were just beating me up in the run game and everything was going 1,000 miles an hour with the old coach's practices so, yeah, it was a grind. Not very fond memories.
Roob: Let's talk about this group of tight ends. You, Trey (Burton) and Brent (Celek) have all been together for four years now. What kind of advantage is it to have that sort of continuity?
Ertz: It's huge. Not only physically how talented we are, but we're all really close off the field, we all get along extremely well, we're very excited when the other person does something well. Brent is the leader of the group, he's been here for a long time, he's one of the best tight ends in Eagles history and Trey is an unbelievable athlete and he's a very versatile player. We've got a really solid group, I think as a whole group we've got a chip on our shoulder this year, so we're excited about the fall.
Roob: How big has it been for you having a veteran like Brent as a teammate your entire career?
Ertz: It's been exceptional. I couldn't imagine going to another team as a rookie. I fell into a situation that was perfect for me with Brent being here. I wouldn't be the tight end I am today for sure without him being here. The way he approaches the game, on and off the field, has been tremendous for me, helping me not only in the pass game but in the run game especially. That's probably where I've made the most strides since my rookie year, in the run game. It's probably mostly because of Brent and Justin Peelle, the tight ends coach.
Roob: And Justin is one of the position coaches Chip brought in that Doug kept when he took over last year and also a guy who had a long NFL career himself. How big has it been having him as your position coach for four years?
Ertz: It speaks volumes about the type of coach he is if you're able to survive a regime change. There's a lot of respect that he has in this organization and as players we love playing for him, and he's definitely getting the most out of us.
Roob: How do you look back at your first four years? You have 247 catches, ninth-most in NFL history by a tight end, and 2,840 yards, which is 11th-most. What's your mindset going into 2017?
Ertz: Consistency is going to be key this year, staying healthy at the beginning of the year so I'm able to start fast. That's the priority I have going into this year. Getting the touchdown numbers up hopefully, making plays in the red zone. I'm not worried about outside perception I just care about what the guys in the locker room think about me and I think, and I know they have positive respect for me and I love playing for them.
Roob: You suffered a very serious injury last year on opening day - a displaced rib - but missed only two games. How tough was it playing with that injury?
Ertz: It was tough, not only physically but mentally as well. I knew how serious it was. The doctors explained how serious it was. There was the potential for losing feeling in the arm down the road if you sever that nerve, so it was tough, but at the end of the day I just wanted to go out there and make plays and get back there on the field as soon as I could, and I started feeling better about halfway through the year. They had never seen that injury before in the NFL, so it was pretty severe. But it's football, you're going to get hurt.
Roob: This time last year, Carson Wentz was the third-stringer behind Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel. How does he look this summer?
Ertz: He's had an unbelievable offseason. He's so confident and comfortable in this situation now. Last year was kind of I think uncomfortable for him. He wants to be the guy, he wants to be the leader of this team, and being in this situation last year he was just kind of go with the flow and not really speak up too much, but he's such a Type A personality. He wants to be in charge, he wants guys to follow him, and he's been able to assert himself all offseason. He's done an unbelievable job, he's the leader of this football team, he's the face of the franchise and we love playing for him.
Roob: Your mom, Lisa Ertz, is devoted to helmet safety. She's on the coalition of advisers of a company that works to design safer helmets. How important is the work she's doing?
Ertz: It's been huge. She's extremely passionate about making the game safer. Whenever you have a loved one playing in the NFL - or playing any sport - you want to make sure it's as safe as possible. VICIS is her company, it's kind of leading the helmet initiative. They're doing amazing things up there and I think in a few years everyone will be wearing them.
Roob: OK, finally - I figure six catches a game gives you 96 this year. That's a pretty good number. What are your goals statistically?
Ertz: I like that number. If I'm that close to 100, I might as well go for 100. No, whatever it takes. I want to go 16-0 and I want to get to the playoffs. I've had the catches, I've had the yards, I've had touchdowns in this league, but I've never won a playoff game, so that's all we're focused on this year. Getting to the playoffs and winning games. We're excited about the fall.