X-Factor: Eagles tight end Zach Ertz 


Eagles tight end Zach Ertz will attract a crowd, but primarily will be covered by strongside linebacker De’Vondre Campbell in the season opener Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field. 

Ertz was selected to his first Pro Bowl last season after catching 74 passes for 824 yards and eight touchdowns. Former teammate Mychal Kendricks, then a linebacker with the Browns, gave a scouting report of Ertz on the HBO series “Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Cleveland Browns.”

“86 (Ertz’s number) is the best receiver on the team,” Kendricks said. “Notice I said receiver. When it comes to blocking, you (expletive) hit his (butt) over and over. He doesn’t want no smoke.”

Strong safety Keanu Neal and nickel back Brian Poole will also spend some time with Ertz, who’s a big part of the Eagles’ RPO package on third downs.

NBC analyst Rodney Harrison, who was a nominee for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018 and will likely be on the 2019 list, believes Neal can be exploited in coverage.

“I think Neal is a tremendous young safety,” Harrison said. “I think the biggest weakness — if I’m Philadelphia, I’m looking at exposing him in coverage. 

“He’s a very big guy, he’s very physical, but at times you can see he has some stiffness in his hips, and he struggles to cover. 

“And if one of my athletic tight ends — one-on-one opportunities, and really exposing his weakness, and that’s his biggest weakness as a safety is his inability to cover those tight ends one-on-one.”

   

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