Eagles TC Report: Pantale Gets Vote of Confidence
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - It's rare when the fourth tight end of any NFL team can rest comfortably in late July but the Eagles' Chris Pantale is not your average bubble guy.
The Wayne, N.J. native is so versatile that Eagles coach Doug Pederson not only has earmarked a spot on the team's 53-man roster for the little-known, first-year player, he also intimated that he wants to find a way to get him dressed each and every week.
"I like to have four of them (dress), if that's possible," Pederson told reporters before the team's first open practice at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday.
The tight end position as a whole is probably the Eagles' deepest with many believing that starter Zach Ertz is on the verge of becoming a star, while veteran backup Brent Celek remains as solid as they come. Trey Burton, meanwhile, is a special-teams ace and has shown the ability to produce in his rare opportunities with the offense.
Then comes Pantale, who is the team's top fullback, as well as an in-line option and a at least a competent receiver from the slot. On yeah and he also plays special teams.
"Chris is very versatile," Pederson said. "He's at tight end, fullback. He's valuable on special teams."
When asked about the glowing remarks after practice, Pantale was obviously happy but he isn't about to let it affect his disposition and the way he built himself up to this point.
“That’s my goal. To be as versatile as possible and play as many (roles as possible),” Pantale told 973espn.com. “Backup y and then split out and play that h-back type of role and then play that fullback to show I’m willing to mix it up a little bit. I’ve been just trying to learn as much as I can.”
It's rare that coaches want to signal to unproven players that they've essentially made the team this early but there is little fear that Pantale, one of the hardest workers on the team, is going to put his lunch pail away anytime soon.
"Obviously it's something that I like to hear and it's not something you take likely," said Pantale. "Anything the coach says. You take it to heart. Whether it's bad, good, anything he says is important. It's not going to change the way I focus and prepare. Every day I'm going to put it on the line and make it an easy decision to have four tight ends."
LFF CAMP NOTES:
-Today was the day that the 2016 Eagles took their act public for the first time, holding their first open practice at the Linc. Clearly interest was down a bit as the crowd from this year's debut here was significantly down from 2015, which ultimately turned out to be Chip Kelly's last in Philadelphia.
That said, the crowd that did show up (18,276), which could also have been affected by the rainy weather this morning, was boisterous as usual especially for the face of the franchise, as chants of "Carson Carson" reverberated throughout the field.
It's not often that the third-string quarterback is that face of the franchise but that's exactly what's going on in Philadelphia right now.
"Man, it was pretty cool," Wentz said of his first time playing in LFF. "Being in the locker room, I was like 'this is pretty nice.' Everyone's yelling and excited. For practice, this is pretty sweet. It was really exciting and I had a lot of fun today."
On the field, Wentz continues to be a work in progress with tightening up the mechanics, particularly his footwork, the main focus. Wentz had a second straight solid day, especially throwing to undrafted rookie Hunter Sharp, who had his best day as a member of the Eagles.
His best throw was about a 30-yard tough pass to the sideline that was put in the bucket for receiver David Watford but the college QB/turned wideout couldn’t pull it in.
-Sharp also caught a Chase Daniel bomb for a long TD.
-Sam Bradford, meanwhile, struggled, especially in the early part of practice and threw an interception to Rodney McLeod. Bradford's best throw was a dandy as Jordan Matthews split coverage from Leodis McKelvin and Malcolm Jenkins on a go route for a TD.
-After struggling indoors earlier in the week, kicker Cody Parkey rebounded in the big building, banging through kicks from 43 yards and 53. He missed wide left from 48 and his competition, Caleb Sturgis, continued to be lights out, 5-for-5, although his try from 48 hit the left upright before sneaking in.
-The chippiness showed up in individual drills when rookie CB Jalen Mills jammed Chris Givens in what would have been a hands to the face penalty. Mills turned Givens' helmet around before the receiver recovered on the re-start to beat the youngster deep. Givens threw the football at Mills in triumph and the rook hurled it right back in anger.
-Starting right corner Nolan Carroll was dressed despite tweaking his leg on Saturday as was nickel corner Ron Brooks, who was cramping in the heat on Saturday. As expected RB Ryan Mathews (ankle) and OG Brandon Brooks (hamstring) remained sidelined.
-The Eagles had three seventh-round picks in this year's draft and the roster prospects look great for two of theam, Mills and middle linebacker Joe Walker. The third, 6-foot-6, 240-pound defensive end Alex McCalister, however, is struggling mightily.
As expected with his frame, the University of Florida product is just not strong enough to handle things at the point of attack and for some reason, Jim Schwartz is keeping him on the left side as a base end. Today running back Cedric O'Neal blew up McCalister in pass protection.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen