Smith remains starter at TE Andy Reid had praise for Brent Celek, but said L.J. Smith will get his job back with the Birds.

Posted: November 04, 2008

Brent Celek enjoyed a career day Sunday as the Eagles routed the Seattle Seahawks, 26-7.

But even though Celek caught six passes for 131 yards in place of the injured L.J. Smith, Eagles coach Andy Reid insisted yesterday that there is no tight end controversy.

When he is healthy, Smith still will be the starter, Reid said. Smith missed Sunday's game with a concussion he suffered Oct. 26 in a 27-14 win against the visiting Atlanta Falcons.

"L.J. is a starter when he comes back, and hopefully it works out for him with his [concussion]," Reid said yesterday at the NovaCare Complex. "He's making progress, just getting him back in there. We'll see come Wednesday, but he's getting ready."

The Eagles will resume practice tomorrow, preparing for Sunday's 8:15 p.m. game at Lincoln Financial Field against the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, who are 7-1.

A second-year player, Celek could give the Eagles another weapon against the Giants. He had just 83 receiving yards in his first seven games, so Sunday's performance was a breakthrough.

Celek said he is not concerned about trying to supplant Smith in the starting lineup.

"I don't think about that stuff," he said. "L.J. is a great player and I hope he can get healthy this week and go out and play. I think he helps the team a lot."

Reid praised Celek, but he wanted to make it clear that he feels Smith brings a great deal to the Eagles' offense. Smith has played six games this season, missing another because of a back injury. He has 12 receptions for 106 yards and two touchdowns.

"The obvious question is: Why isn't L.J getting the same number of yards?" Reid said. "But he attracts so much attention and Celek comes in and he's kind of an unknown guy, so there were times where they didn't do a great job of covering him."

Reid said that Celek deserves credit for his big day.

"I'm not taking anything away from him because I thought that he played his heart out," Reid said. "And when he did have man-to-man situations . . . he dominated there."

Still, Smith is seen as a threat by other teams.

"L.J. is one of those guys that everybody talks about and the other team is very aware of," Reid said.

Celek cited the presence of Brian Westbrook as a major factor for his big day.

"The threat that Brian Westbrook has, they had to bring a lot of guys down in the box to make sure he wasn't breaking free on runs," Celek said. "It left guys open on the outside."

Celek took advantage of that open space, which may close up a bit after Sunday's performance.

"I'm sure teams will pay closer attention [to Celek] now," Reid said. "That was a pretty impressive game."

Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225 or mnarducci@phillynews.com.

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|