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Tight End Clay Harbor Trying To Stay On The Field By Playing Linebacker

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By Joseph Santoliquito

Philadelphia, PA (CBS) — Clay Harbor looks around and sees himself in a bit of a quandary these days. The tight end suddenly finds himself third on a crowded depth chart that behind Brent Celek and second-round pick Zach Ertz slotted above him.

It’s enough to make Harbor think about looking elsewhere to get on the field. In fact, he took some reps at outside linebacker during the OTAs. Harbor played safety in high school, so defense isn’t a completely foreign area of the field. It presents a greater possibility of making the team when they get together this July for camp.

“It was just something the coaches asked me to do, run a little bit of defense,” Harbor said. “There isn’t many 6-3, 250-some guys that can run well, is their thinking, and they’re athletic. We did it just get some looks in emergency situations and for versatile purposes. There are 45 guys that dress every Sunday. If something happens, someone gets nicked, if I know the defense, I can help out there. We have a lot of great tight ends here. I want to make myself more diverse as a player. Do more things, line up in more situations. If defense helps me out there, I’m going to learn some defense.”

In Chip Kelly’s offense, the tight end plays a very important role. It’s why Kelly went after Stanford’s Ertz, a large target with good speed that can stretch a defense down the middle. With Celek and Ertz, Harbor’s role could be greatly reduced.

“I haven’t played much defense since high school, when I was a safety, but as an offensive player, we think we have to know more and a little smarter than those d-lineman,” Harbor said. “I don’t think about [being on the bubble of making the team]. I’m trying to pick up a little bit of the defense. I’m still a tight end, and if something happens, I can learn some defense.”

Joseph Santoliquito is a contributing sports blogger for CBS Philly.