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fordfixer
09-30-2009, 01:43 AM
The tight end has become a solid NFL option

By Mark Kaboly, DAILY NEWS SPORTS EDITOR
Wednesday, September 30, 2009

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 45622.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_645622.html)


Tight ends are an extension of the offensive line nothing more, nothing less.

For years in the NFL, that is how the position was viewed by many, if not all, who were involved in the game.

Sure, there were exceptions to the rule. Guys like Ozzie Newsome, John Mackey, Dave Casper, Charlie Sanders, Jackie Smith, Kellen Winslow and Mike Ditka, to name just a handful, were as adept at catching a football as they were knocking a defensive end to the ground.

For years, though, NFL general managers steered clear of the tight end as a high draft pick because the position wasn't being developed thoroughly enough at the college level to translate to the pro game.

Also, teams would rather throw the ball to a speedy receiver than a plodding tight end, which made the position it was for years: a nonexistent one.

How the NFL has changed. Not only are tight ends being used in a variety of ways, they are being targeted more and more by quarterbacks around the league.

Through three weeks of the season, 13 tight ends lead their respective teams in at least one receiving category (receptions, yards or touchdowns.) Five others rank second as the top receiving threat.

That's 18 of the 32 starting tight ends that rank as a leading receiver.

"Once we rediscovered the tight end around the league, the light bulb sort of went on in a lot of different places at once," New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees told ESPN.com. "And you know what a copycat league it is. So, once it works for one team, then everyone wants in on the act. Plus, in general, the tight ends are simply better now and a lot more flexible than they used to be."

Brees, despite his many offensive weapons, has used tight end Jeremy Shockey plenty this year. Shockey isn't one of the players who leads his team in any receiving categories: His 14 catches for 128 yards and two touchdowns rank behind either Marques Colston or Devery Henderson.

Same goes for the tight end the Steelers meet Sunday in San Diego's Antonio Gates, who earns partial credit for how the position is played today. Gates has 15 catches for 225 yards all fewer than receiver Vincent Jackson.

Those two examples are not meant to de-emphasize the position's current value.

"Antonio Gates is probably one of the best tight ends in the world," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said.

Gates is getting company when it comes to being labeled the best tight end.

Tampa Bay's Kellen Winslow Jr. and San Francisco's Vernon Davis lead their teams in receptions, yards and touchdowns.

Last season, 10 tight ends finished with 50 or more receptions, and six (Tony Gonzalez, Jason Witten, Chris Cooley, Zach Miller, Bo Scaife and Gates) led their team in catches.

This year, six are on pace again to lead their team in receptions (Brent Celek, Witten, Cooley, Winslow, Davis and Miller) with 16 reaching at least 50 catches.

START AT THE ENDS

A look at the 13 NFL tight ends that lead their team in at least one receiving category this season:

Player, Team: Rec.-Yds-TD

Brent Celek, Eagles: 22-245-2

Jason Witten, Cowboys: 19-181-1

Dallas Clark, Colts: 18-284-2

Chris Cooley, Redskins: 17-189-1

John Carlson, Seahawks: 15-169-2

Owen Daniels, Texans: 15-154-2

Kellen Winslow Jr., Buccaneers: 15-134-2

Vernon Davis, 49ers: 14-168-2

Tony Gonzalez, Falcons: 13-160-2

Todd Heap, Ravens: 10-124-2

Ben Watson, Patriots: 10-123-2

Zach Miller, Raiders: 8-113-2

Dante Rosario, Panthers: 6-89-2

SCOTT BROWN'S POWER POLL

TOP FIVE

1. Giants: Will be a popular pick in survivor pools this week, as they play the hapless Chiefs in Kansas City.

2. Ravens: Team that can now win with offense as well as defense has an early two-game lead over Steelers in AFC North.

3. Saints: Shut down Drew Brees and their high-flying passing game and New Orleans will beat you with its deep and talented stable of running backs.

4. Jets: Rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez is legit. Ditto for a defense that faces its biggest test of the young season Sunday in New Orleans.

5. Colts: Is there a more valuable player than quarterback Peyton Manning? He's helped make for a smooth coaching transition in Indianapolis.

BOTTOM FIVE

28. Redskins: True, they have a win. But they are coming off a loss to the Lions. Enough said.

29. Chiefs: First-year coach Todd Haley sure was a lot smarter when he had players such as Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Kurt Warner at his disposal.

30. Browns: Seriously, why did the Browns hire Eric Mangini? Then again, it's looking more and more like he doesn't have a quarterback around with which to build.

31. Buccaneers: Byron Leftwich is out, Josh Johnson in at quarterback. How long until we see rookie first-round pick Josh Freeman under center?

32. Rams: When you talk about really bad teams in the NFL, the Rams are prominent in the discussion. Another two-win season in St. Louis is a distinct possibility.

JTP53609
09-30-2009, 09:45 AM
we have a pretty good tight end, i saw him drop a pass against the bengals on the opening drive though, only the second time i have ever seen #83 drop the ball, the other was the super bowl last year on the goal line....

RuthlessBurgher
10-01-2009, 01:24 PM
we have a pretty good tight end, i saw him drop a pass against the bengals on the opening drive though, only the second time i have ever seen #83 drop the ball, the other was the super bowl last year on the goal line....

Wait...let me get this straight. Miller dropped a ball in the game against the Bengals, and he also dropped a potential scoring pass in the playoffs last year. That sounds like Sweed! Why did we extend Miller this off-season??? We should cut him!!! He sucks! :stirpot

JTP53609
10-01-2009, 01:52 PM
we have a pretty good tight end, i saw him drop a pass against the bengals on the opening drive though, only the second time i have ever seen #83 drop the ball, the other was the super bowl last year on the goal line....

Wait...let me get this straight. Miller dropped a ball in the game against the Bengals, and he also dropped a potential scoring pass in the playoffs last year. That sounds like Sweed! Why did we extend Miller this off-season??? We should cut him!!! He sucks! :stirpot


well miller does have some key catches working his favor too.....just so it is out there, on the sweed is cut thread, i posted in the middle of the first page that he will be okay once he learns to catch, he runs nice routs, seems intelligent and has the talent,