“when I Walk Out On The Field For The First Time On Aug. 9 It’s Going To Seem Unreal.”----dallas Goedert

(Editor’s Note: This is the last of several periodic columns that have followed Britton-Hecla graduate and South Dakota State University standout Dallas Goedert in his quest to play in the National Football League. Practice starts Thursday with the first preseason game Aug. 9.)

It still really doesn’t feel real for Dallas Goedert.

The 2013 Britton-Hecla graduate and first draft pick of the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles reports to the Eagles today (Wednesday) for fall camp with practice beginning Thursday. Then, in two weeks and one day, he will step onto an NFL field for the first time when the Eagles host the Pittsburgh Steelers in their preseason opener on Aug. 9.

“I still don’t think it has really sunk in that I’ll be playing in the NFL,” said Goedert. “I’ve put on the helmet and jersey and everything, but I haven’t put on pads and haven’t been hit yet. When camp starts I think it will slowly start to sink in more, and when I walk out on the field for the first time on Aug. 9 it’s going to seem unreal.” The for- mer South Dakota State University Jackrabbit did get a taste of what is to come last month when the team held several weeks of workouts without pads.

“I think the biggest difference between college and the NFL is the speed of the game,” said Goedert. “In college I could run by defenders and stay by them. In the NFL, they catch up. Everything has to be split second. If you’re open, the ball has to be on its way.”

But he felt good about his progress in his first exposure to the Eagles’ offense.

“I think the Eagles were surprised a little bit with my football knowledge and how quickly I was able to pick up the offense. But my whole game needs to improve. Each year I need to take it a step further and keep advancing, but I’m happy with where I’m at right now.”

He also expects to get a quick education from some of the Eagles’All-Pro defensive players.

“The Eagles have a good defensive line and just blocking them day in and day out will be a challenge. I’m sure I will see some of those veteran moves I haven’t seen before, but going against the best will prepare me even better for the games and I’m excited for that challenge.”

“When I walk out on the field for the first time on Aug. 9 it’s going to seem unreal.”
----Dallas Goedert

Goedert also hopes to be a major contributor to his team in his rookie season. The Eagles used three tight ends regularly a year ago, and just one of them – All-Pro Zach Ertz – returns.

“Zach has been really helpful for me and I’ve enjoyed learning from him,” said Geodert. “I think if I perform the way I think I can, I could have an impact on the team as a rookie.”

In his short time with the Eagles Goedert also has a sense of purpose from his teammates to win back-toback Super Bowls. Last season the team went from a 7-9 record the previous year to a 13-3 mark on their way to the title.

“It’s hard to help a younger guy that’s fighting to take your job, but it really seems like everybody wants to win and has the same goal. There are a lot of friendships on the team and everybody cares for each other just as much as they care for themselves. It’s pretty rare what Philly has going.

“There was also quite a bit of talk about how last year was last year. They don’t want to hang their hat on it and have an 8-8 season this year. We know we will have a target on our backs, but it’s definitely our goal to repeat as Super Bowl champs. It’s a really hard thing to do, but once you have success you want more of it.

“The roster and the coaching staff has stayed pretty much the same as last year, which is kind of uncommon when you win a Super Bowl,” added Goedert. “The Eagles also had a lot of injuries last year and people are getting healthy.”

Goedert knows things will ratchet up a notch when fall camp begins.

“When you get pads on everything changes. We have 100 guys right now and only 53 make the roster. People will be fighting for their jobs and it will be pretty intense every day at practice.”

Goedert has signed a fouryear, $5.624 million contract, including a $2.17 million signing bonus, but he still has to fight for his spot on that 53-man roster.

“I still have to earn that roster spot. There are six tight ends on the squad right now and they will probably keep three on the roster. But SDSU used me all over the field and I had to learn multiple positions, and I think that definitely set me up for success.”

Goedert hopes to prove himself in the four preseason games against the Steelers, Patriots, Browns, and Jets prior to the season opener against the Atlanta Falcons in Philadelphia on Sept. 6.

“With Zach Ertz being an elite tight end it should open up a lot of room for me to get playing time in the preseason and show what I’m able to do. I hope to show the coaches that I can be used in a lot of different ways and can be effective in the red zone (inside the 20-yard line). Quarterbacks welcome big bodies (6-5, 255) and like to throw to somebody that can go up and make a play and is willing to take a shot for a touchdown. I think that’s a place where I could be used, and I always like to be in that position.”

Goedert had a chance to catch quite a few balls from Carson Wentz, a former North Dakota State University rival and expected first-game starter at quarterback for the Eagles, in the July practice sessions. Wentz was sidelined by a knee injury last season but is expected to be ready to go. The two also share the same agent.

“Carson had told the Eagles that if they wanted a tight end, I was the one he wanted them to get,” noted Goedert. “I think the quarterback has a lot of say in the draft and having the same agent helped. And it’s nice having a familiar face on the team. It’s not that he needs to look out for me, but I feel he will because we have the same agency. It’s kind of like a little family.”

But as fall camp begins this week Goedert is most looking forward to getting back on the football field.

“The last game I played was Dec. 16 with SDSU, and I’m really looking forward to putting on the pads and playing somebody we’re not practicing against every day. That first time around the league it’s going to be pretty crazy seeing some of those guys I have watched on television.”

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