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With standard-setter Travis Kelce on other sideline, Dallas Goedert aims to make key impact for Eagles in Super Bowl LVII

PHOENIX -- Dallas Goedert got a good view of what elite looks like at the tight end position in the last few years.

Goedert spent recent offseasons training with some of the league's top players at the position at Tight End University, a skills camp intended for NFLers hosted in Nashville by retired standout Greg Olsen, 49ers tight end George Kittle and the Chiefs' Travis Kelce.

One of those three will take the same field as Goedert on Sunday with the goal of winning a Lombardi Trophy. Kelce has set the standard at the position, recording his seventh-straight 1,000-plus-yard season in 2022 as part of a Chiefs offense that finished atop the NFL in yards per game, secured the top seed in the AFC, and rode it to a return trip to the Super Bowl.

If other tight ends are looking for a model of excellence, they'll find it in Kelce. Goedert is striving to join him among the NFL's best at the position.

"Man, I've been studying him since I was in college," Goedert told SiriusXM NFL Radio on Wednesday. "I don't know if this is his sixth, seventh, or eighth 1,000-yard season, which for a receiver is incredible; tight end, it's just unheard of. Just watching him, he's an incredible player. There's a reason he's been at the top of his position.

"He really is a special player, special mind. There's a reason he's as good as he is."

Goedert made sure to pick Kelce's brain during their time at Tight End University. Now, he's hoping to make an even bigger impact, and potentially prevent Kelce from winning another ring.

Goedert's journey to this point required some sacrifice. He was drafted in 2018 by a team that already had a clear No. 1 option at the position in Zach Ertz, and realized that in order to make an immediate impact, he had to do the dirty work.

"To see the field, I needed to be a blocker," Goedert said. "That's what I prided myself in early in my career. To this day, I feel like I'm an important part of the run game. I'm an important part of the (pass) protection sometimes. These guys do such an incredible job, that I never want to let them down."

When Ertz departed via trade to Arizona in 2021, it officially became Goedert's time to command the role of TE1, which Philadelphia reinforced by signing him to an extension in 2021. A little over a year later, that time is now more important than ever.

Prior to the NFC Championship Game, Goedert let it be known he feels as if he's being overlooked in favor of other, bigger names at the position, including Kelce. Though Goedert deftly avoided giving the Chiefs bulletin board material Thursday, he admitted Sunday presents him with a premier opportunity to back up his words with actions.

"I think this is a great stage to prove to people that I belong in the conversation with the top tight ends," Goedert said. "If they don't want to put me there, that's cool. I'm gonna keep grinding each and every day and hopefully go out and win this game on Sunday, have a good game and hopefully be back here multiple times in my career."

Much of the focus on Philadelphia's offense centers on quarterback Jalen Hurts, his cast of talented receivers (with A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith leading the way), and veteran center Jason Kelce, whose intelligence and leadership has helped the Eagles form one of the NFL's best offensive lines. You'd have to look fairly far down the list before Goedert's name appears.

That doesn't bother Goedert. After all, he began his NFL career by accepting a less glamorous role, which he said on Thursday prepared him for greater opportunities.

"It helped me to really solidify myself as a three-down tight end," Goedert said of the early portion of his career. "I think the coaches have all the faith in me in whatever run scheme that we're doing that I can hold the point of attack, I can cut off the back side, and then when it's third down, I think they have all the faith in me to beat man-to-man, find the soft spot in the zone. To be a complete, three-down tight end, that's what I always wanted to be. I always wanted to be on the field every snap, and I'm getting close to being able to do that now."

Goedert could occupy an important place in Super Bowl LVII, though.

With so much of the focus trained on Hurts, Brown, Smith, and Philadelphia's stable of running backs (headlined by Miles Sanders), Goedert might be able to operate in the shadows, ready to strike at the perfect moment.

Unlike Travis Kelce, Goedert likely won't be a primary concern for the opposing defense and Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who won't overlook the tight end, but might not lose sleep over him, either. There's also some precedent for tight ends contributing against these Chiefs: Bengals tight end Hayden Hurst and Jaguars tight end Evan Engram combined to catch nine passes for 68 yards in their playoff games against Kansas City, though neither found the end zone.

Goedert isn't concerned with stats or heroism. To him, doing his job will be good enough, especially if it produces a victory.

"For me, I'm going to do whatever I can to help this team win," he said. "If the ball's coming my way, I'm going to do everything I can to make plays. ... If my job is to run off to help A.J. or Smitty or Quez (Watkins) or Zach (Pascal) get open, I'll do that. If my job is to hold off the back side on runs, set the edge on the front side, I'm happy to do that, too.

"Really, all I care about is getting this win and I'm going to do whatever I can to help this team do that."

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