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Zach Ertz wants to mentor, guide Commanders' young TEs


Zach Ertz is a new face on the Washington Commanders' roster, but he's far from being a stranger to the NFL.

Ertz, drafted in the second round by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013, is joining the Burgundy & Gold with more experience than most tight ends in the league today. At 33 years old, he's played 12 seasons with three Pro Bowls to his name. His career receiving yards rank 17th among all pass-catchers and third among his position.

All that's to say, Ertz has seen a lot of football, and he's looking to pass on his knowledge to the younger crop of players on Washington's roster.

"I'm just trying to help them in any way I can," Ertz said. "It's something I think in this stage in my career that I've taken a lot more pride in than maybe I did when I was younger. I'm just trying to maximize this team with any way I can help."

Ertz was the first recognizable name that Washington signed once Dan Quinn became the Commanders' head coach, and he was the start of an effort by the coaching staff and front office to inject the roster they inherited with veteran leadership.

Players like Ertz, running back Austin Ekeler and linebacker Bobby Wagner aren't long-term answers for Washington, but they do immediately elevate the team's talent while simultaneously providing a guide for younger players.

"They've seen the highs and lows," said offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury. "They've seen the good teams, the bad teams, and so just talking through what a good team looked like, what their standards were, their practices, how guys worked and then the teams that could have been good and weren't."

That's a role Ertz has embraced since he came to Washington in March. Though the rookies and veterans haven't worked together long, Kingsbury has seen him with second-, third- and fourth-year players like John Bates and Cole Turner, which has been "awesome" to view from afar.

To be clear, Ertz isn't being a helicopter veteran. He's not "holding their hands" on the practice field, but rather pulling them aside and offering his insight on things they need to work on or how he would approach certain aspects of the position.

"It's not just me being the salty vet...trying to tell them what to do every play, because they've got a coach for that," Ertz said. "I'm just trying to help them in any way I can."

Both Ertz and Kingsbury have pointed out that Washington has plenty of young, talented players on the roster. Bates has been one of the better run-blocking tight ends in the league; Cole Turner has potential as a red zone target; and Armani Rogers could be productive if he gets more acclimated to the position.

Ertz wants to be there for them in any way he can.

"I'm the guy that wants to be a voice in their ear if they have questions or they have anything they want to bounce off me," Ertz said.

The rookies and veterans were on the field for the first time as they began OTA practices. Check out the top photos of Jayden Daniels working with Terry McLaurin, Brian Robinson and more.

Ertz certainly has a wealth of knowledge he can pass down to Washington's younger players. He's one of the best tight ends in Eagles history, ranking fifth among all pass-catchers with 6,267 yards, and he had one of most productive seasons for a tight end in the NFL with 1,163 yards, eight touchdowns and 116 receptions from 156 targets.

That isn't what he hopes his new teammates will remember about him, though; rather, he wants it to be who he is as a person.

"You've gotta have a personal relationship with someone to know that I care about them," Ertz said. "I wanna be as open as possible because that's what guys are gonna remember. People aren't gonna remember my stats and my yards or my catches when I'm done. Hopefully they remember the relationships that I have with them."

And that hasn't gone unnoticed by his coaches, either.

"That's been awesome to see him kind of leave his legacy with those guys," Kingsbury said, "with how he treats them, how he works with them, how he coaches them up."

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