Trey Burton is a realist.
He knows that he’s the fourth tight end on a team that features three outstanding other players ahead of him on the depth chart.
It’s one thing for Burton, a rookie free agent out of Florida, to make the 53-man roster. It’s another to be one of the 46 active players on gameday. Burton, though, has found a way by making a mark on special teams.
Burton blocked an Andy Lee punt in the first quarter that was recovered in the end zone by wide receiver Brad Smith for the first points of the game in Sunday’s 26-21 loss to the 49ers at Levi’s Stadium.
“It’s what I have to do. I’m the fourth tight end and we have three unbelievable tight ends ahead of me. I know I’m not going to see too much time on offense,” Burton said. “I’ve been hanging out with James Casey a lot, Chris Maragos, just trying to become the best I can on special teams.”
Linebacker Connor Barwin and Trent Cole sacked 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick at the 2-yard-line on third down to pin San Francisco back. Andy Lee lined up for the punt. Burton said that the Eagles unearthed a weakness in the 49ers’ punt protection scheme during film study and called a rush. Burton helped walk the guard back into Lee. It was the first blocked punt touchdown by the Eagles since Ken Rose blocked a Sean Landeta punt and returned it for a score against the Giants on November 22, 1992.
The Eagles weren’t done on special teams. Darren Sproles returned a punt 82 yards for a touchdown to put the Eagles ahead 21-10 in the second quarter. It was the longest play of Sproles’ storied career. All three of the Eagles’ touchdowns Sunday came on special teams and defense. The Eagles became the first team in NFL history to score a touchdown via a blocked punt, punt return and interception return in the first half of a game.
Unfortunately, it was still not enough.
“Our main goal is to win, so we’re not satisfied on special teams right now,” Burton said. “We have things that we have to correct. We’re looking forward to next week.”