BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- It's all about who you know. Chase Ford has been a pleasant surprise so far, but he ended up at Eagles training camp largely because of a connection.
The 6-foot-6, 258-pound undrafted tight end played two seasons of college ball at the University of Miami, where Jed Fish is the offensive coordinator. Fish happened to be college roommates with Eagles' GM Howie Roseman at the University of Florida.
That is not to say Ford is out of place or in camp undeservedly. Roseman just had good information. Ford has shown great hands, is a reliable, big target and seems to understand what he can bring to the team at the tight end position.
"My best thing, in my opinion, would probably be catching the ball," Ford said. "I try not to drop anything and I usually don't."
Before going to Miami, Ford played at Kilgore Junior College in Texas. In junior college, Ford caught just about everything thrown his way. He racked up 545 yards on 32 catches and was named a second team Junior College All-American. After the 2009 season, he left for the University of Miami.
Miami was a different story. Ford had just 16 catches in his two seasons there. In his final year for the Hurricanes, Ford had nine receptions for 88 yards and one touchdown. He played in all 12 games, but started just six. The statistics are a bit underwhelming, but stats aren't everything.
Ford has raw ability, good size and potential. You can't teach potential. Roseman and Fish understand that. Ford also has the right attitude. There are no guarantees for Ford with Clay Harbor, Brett Brackett and Brent Celek at tight end. He just focuses on the task at hand.
“I feel like I’ve been doing a pretty good job so far," Ford said. "You always got to come out here and get better every day and that’s my goal to come out here and get better.”
With Celek day-to-day with a sprained knee and the Eagles passing on signing a veteran, Ford should have some extra opportunities and reps the next few days. Those are precious extra snaps to improve and make an impression.
And with Saturday marking the start of full-contact practices, the real fun is about to begin.
"It has been a long time since I've been in pads," Ford said. "I'm ready to get back into pads and get that feeling back again."
Embracing contact is just the ticket to being popular in Philadelphia. And if Ford can continue to impress the way he has when the hitting begins, he will turn some heads. Not that the rookie is focusing on any of that.
“My goal for training camp is just to come out here and get better every day. That’s all you really can do," Ford said. "Get better from one day to the next and if you do that you should be alright.”