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Is Eagles' Grant Calcaterra poised for a Year 2 jump?


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Is Eagles' Grant Calcaterra poised for a Year 2 jump?

Grant Calcaterra had a minimal role with the Eagles in 2022 but is he ready for more in Year 2?

By Dave Zangaro  Published August 8, 2023

 

Grant Calcaterra already faced a steep learning curve last summer as a sixth-round rookie out of SMU and then he got hurt. Calcaterra missed three weeks with a hamstring injury.

As he enters Year 2 of his NFL career, Calcaterra admits that was a setback.

"Yeah, probably,” he said last week. "It’s just hard to feel confident in a guy when he doesn’t get those reps in training camp. I definitely missed out last year so hopefully I can continue to be at practice every day this year.”

So far, so good. (Knock on wood.) Calcaterra has participated in every practice so far this summer and he’s making some plays.

While he’s still behind Dallas Goedert and Jack Stoll on the depth chart, Calcaterra has noticeably been catching a lot of passes this summer. He has been targeted way more times than Stoll.

As a rookie, Calcaterra played in 15 games with 2 starts. But he played a total of just 227 offensive snaps and caught just 5 passes for 81 yards. Stoll played way more in 2022; he was on the field for 49% of the Eagles’ offensive snaps but caught just 11 passes.

While the Eagles clearly see value in having a blocking tight end as their No. 2, it’s fair to wonder if a guy who offers more as a dual threat would enticing. If that player ever becomes Calcaterra, his blocking has to improve and he knows that.

Calcaterra, 24, spent his offseason working out and trying to put on weight. Last week, he said he was up about 5-8 pounds and was already seeing the benefit of those extra lbs.

"Yeah, I think so, so far,” Calcaterra said. "It’s only our third day with pads on. But I definitely feel more comfortable with my base and everything like that. It’s been helpful.”

There’s no question that Calcaterra entered the NFL as a pretty smooth receiving tight end but he admitted that coming out of SMU, the questions about his blocking were fair. He’s worked really hard in that aspect of the game and he thinks it has gotten better.

What led to that improvement?

"Just reps. Just repetition,” he said. "I’ve been getting reps in practice and obviously I got some reps in the games last year. And then obviously studying tape and getting with coach and cleaning up technique and getting as many reps as I can.”

The Eagles have one of the best tight ends in the NFL in Goedert, who is a legitimate top 5 guy and someone Calcaterra tries to learn from as much as he can. 

But after Goedert, the Eagles’ depth is questionable. Stoll and Calcaterra are the incumbent No. 2 and No. 3 options but they have to stave off the charge from Tyree Jackson, Dan Arnold and Brady Russell.

But through the first couple weeks of training camp, it’s looking more and more likely that these three — Goedert, Stoll and Calcaterra — will run it back in 2023.

Even though Stoll is trying to keep his position on the depth chart, he’s been impressed by Calcaterra’s improvement.

"He’s definitely improved a lot and I think that’s anyone from their rookie to second season,” Stoll said. "I think one of the biggest things is the crispness of everything. I think that just comes with being in the system and being comfortable enough to where you come in a second year, you’re not as worried about ‘Oh what are we running? What are we doing.’ 

"You can focus on the details instead of the big overall scheme because you already feel like you got that down. I think that’s the biggest leap for him. I’ve noticed him coming out here and looking a lot more comfortable.”

The Eagles are stacked on offense with Jalen Hurts throwing to Goedert, A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith. So it’s not like the TE2 is ever going to get a huge bulk of the work in this offense, even when the Eagles are in their 12 personnel package. 

But the Eagles have run a lot of two-tight end sets under Nick Sirianni and that’s not going away. So it’s still worth watching how Calcaterra develops.

https://www.nbcsportsphiladelphia.com/nfl/philadelphia-eagles/is-eagles-grant-calcaterra-poised-for-a-year-2-jump/531523/

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Calcaterra has a higher ceiling than Stoll I think. He needs to work on blocking but he is a better and more dynamic pass catcher whereas I kind of feel like Stoll is what he is.

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