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As Ertz chases Witten’s record, a friendship comes into focus

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The years since have sewn their stories together. A relationship was forged, a significant gesture was made and now Ertz is on pace to track Witten down in the record books. Sitting at 93 catches with four games to go, he is on track to eclipse Witten’s mark for most single-season receptions by a tight end at 110.

“He’s having a great year,” Witten said. “We all have points in our career where you just get in the zone. When I watch him on tape, I can tell he’s doing things the right way. He’s advanced as a route runner, using his stems, leverage, things like that to get open.”nike nfl jerseys cheap china

That skill set was developed in part by dissecting Witten’s game. Ertz said that he really began honing in on the intricacies of Witten’s route-running once he got to the NFL.3

“He was the guy I was always watching because it seemed like third down, he was always getting his number called and he was always attacking leverage, and so I really just modeled my game after him,” Ertz said.

Little did he know that Witten was combing over Ertz’s tape, as well. Once a line of communication was established, Witten relayed to Ertz that he had been studying his film during the offseason ever since the Stanford product was selected by the Eagles in the second round in 2013.

From that mutual admiration came a one-of-a-kind gift. When Witten retired from the NFL in May, Ertz posted a photo of himself holding Witten’s jersey along with a note of congratulations. Witten revealed not long after that it was the only jersey he had given to an opposing player over 247 career games.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

“I just never got into that whole thing,” Witten said of jersey swapping. But he made an exception for Ertz.

“He’s told me in the past it wasn’t because he was my favorite tight end growing up; he said it was because he really respected how I played the game and how I was always trying to get better,” Ertz said. “Being the only guy he ever traded a jersey with is honestly special.”

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