GLENDALE, Ariz. — Training Camp finally feels comfortable again for Arizona Cardinals tight end Zach Ertz. This time last year, he was coming to practice every day thinking he could get traded.
The Philadelphia Eagles did eventually ship him out west, as the Cardinals got Ertz in a midseason trade. It was an adjustment for a guy that had spent his entire career in one city, but finally, his new city feels like home.
“Being a free agent, you don’t know exactly what the future holds, but I made a point to my agent that this was where I wanted to be,” Ertz said. “And so, whatever it took to get it done, no matter what the other offers would’ve been, I wanted to find a way to get it done here.”
Signing a 3-year extension with the Cardinals was easy for him, mainly because his family calls the Valley home too.
“My wife is obviously from here, we’re expecting here soon, so we’re excited to kind of start building our family out here,” Ertz said. “(My wife) Julie’s parents, her sister’s out here, my mom will probably be out here in the next six months, it’s fun. It’s an amazing, amazing city.”
The Cardinals are now his football family, and Ertz gave a shout-out to the strong relationship he has with his quarterback.
“Kyler knows the playbook better than anyone on this team. He’s been in this system for a long period of time,” Ertz said. “When I first got here last year, he was the guy that was helping me along with learning the playbook. And ultimately, I’ve got to be on the same page as him, so he was helping me with all of that.”
Ertz is one of Kyler Murray’s favorite targets. In just 11 games, he tied a team record for most catches in a season by a tight end.
“Playing with Kyler last year in 11 games, I think we could tell right away that we saw the game very similarly,” Ertz said. “I would say the chemistry was evident early on and I did the best of my ability to get open he did the best he could to throw the ball and I think it worked out pretty well."
“Obviously every receiver tight end wants the ball as much as possible. There’s no shying away from that,” Ertz added. “But at the same time, the ball’s going to find the open guy. Kyler’s not someone that just picks who he’s going to throw to pre-snap. He’s a guy that’s going to throw to the open guy.”
This will be season 10 in the NFL for Ertz and season 2 in Kliff Kingsbury’s offense, which comes with more expectations and a louder voice, especially when it comes to mentoring rookie tight end Trey McBride.
“We’ve got a really good tight end room,” Ertz said. “There’s a lot of depth. There’s a lot of guys that have played football and there’s also some young guys. So, it’s up to us to set the standard each and every day. We’re going to pride ourselves on, I would say, being a group that shows up to work every day eager to get out there and compete.”
Ertz did have praise for the rookie out of Colorado State, who won the Mackey Award, as the best tight end in college football last season.
“I think he’s going to be a really good player,” Ertz said. “Trey’s a guy that’s got natural hands. You can tell a lot of guys kind of fight the ball and struggle catching, but Trey is just a natural pass catcher. He’s never thinking about the actual catch, obviously, OTAs is kind of grass basketball, so you can’t get a feel of how someone’s going to block or whatever, but you could tell he’s a willing blocker, that he’s eager, and he’s very engaged in the process of being a good blocker. So, I’m excited to see him over these next few weeks to see what he can do.”
To practice his leadership, Ertz trained and argued about donuts with another leader this offseason, defensive end J.J. Watt.
“It was great. I think this was one of the best offseasons I’ve had,” Ertz said. “This is probably the best my body’s felt in a really long time, probably the strongest I’ve been in a while. But it’s been great, hopefully, he can say the same about me, but I haven’t really been able to find a guy like that that’s been able to push me continuously and cares about how I’m doing, that the results that I’m getting in the process. And so, for me, it was a great offseason.”
The duo will have a big thing in common. Both will soon be first-time fathers, so are they going to diaper-changing classes together?
“No, no, not yet. I’ll have about two months on him, so I’ll be able to hopefully impart some wisdom on him.”
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