It was not as sexy as his statistics or as thrilling as his 35-yard touchdown catch, but Brent Celek's blocking in the Eagles' 34-14 flogging of Kansas City on Sunday illustrates best how he has become a complete tight end.

Even though he started the final four games last season, critics suggested that Celek's supposed deficiencies in run blocking warranted an upgrade at the position.

It's funny how three games can alter the discourse. The third-year player leads all NFL tight ends in receptions and receiving yards, and his blocking has improved dramatically.

"He's really worked on his run-game [blocking] also, and he's doing a better job there than he did last year," coach Andy Reid said. "That's something that I thought he could improve on."

The best example came on the Eagles' first scoring drive, a series in which Celek did not even have one of his team-high eight catches.

After the Eagles drove to the Chiefs' 34, Michael Vick was inserted in the team's "Spread Eagle" package for the first time. He took a direct snap and ran the option to his right with Jeremy Maclin trailing. Rather than pitch to his receiver, Vick wisely kept the ball and followed Celek's lead block. Celek pushed linebacker Mike Vrabel for the entire length of Vick's 7-yard gain, never giving up.

Two plays later, Celek was lined up on the left side, with tight end Alex Smith flanking the right. Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali stood opposite Celek and rushed outside. Celek guided Hali wide, forcing him to overrun LeSean McCoy, who shot through the initial hole. The running back did the rest, cutting once and scooting 14 yards to the 5-yard line.

On second and goal, McCoy took a direct snap. Celek, on the right, faced off with Vrabel again and knocked him off his feet with a little help from fullback Leonard Weaver. McCoy ran up the middle and into two defenders. He slipped away and reached the football over the goal line for a 7-0 lead.

"The run game - there's still things I need to work on," Celek said. "There's still things this week that I struggled with."

For instance, when McCoy took a hand-off early in the second quarter, Celek fended off defensive end Wallace Gilberry for as long as it would normally take a play to develop. But McCoy got stuck in the backfield, and Gilberry eventually fought off Celek to make the tackle.

Several plays later, Reid decided to go for it on fourth and 1 from the Chiefs' 44. Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb rolled right and tried to hit DeSean Jackson on a quick hitch, but Celek was late getting to Vrabel, and the linebacker batted down the pass.

"Dealing with Vrabel, he's a smart guy, and he stretched the play out," Reid said. "[We] didn't get the edge quite sealed the way I wanted."

Those were minor glitches for Celek, who was virtually perfect receiving. For the second straight week he tallied eight receptions for 104 yards. He is third in the NFL in catches (22) and fourth in receiving yards (245). It may be early, but Celek is on pace for 117 receptions and 1,306 yards - numbers that would shatter team records for tight ends.

Late last season, the position was a mystery for the Eagles. L.J. Smith could no longer be relied on, and some dismissed Celek's production as a by-product of being an unknown. A chorus of fans believed that acquiring perennial all-pro Tony Gonzalez in the off-season would be an upgrade over Celek.

"Either way, I was going to work as hard as I did," Celek said. "I gave 110 percent every day in the weight room, eating. I devoted my entire life to football, and it is starting to pay off."

Celek runs crisp, short routes to the point that if the quarterback hits his mark, the play is nearly indefensible. For instance, when the Eagles faced first and goal on their second scoring drive, Celek did a seamless pirouette to the inside. Kolb hit him in the chest, Celek survived a lick from Demorrio Williams, and the play netted 8 yards. Kolb scored from a yard out two plays later.

The Eagles' fourth touchdown of the game and Celek's second of the season came in the fourth quarter when Kolb found his tight end alone in a seam of the Chiefs' zone. Celek hauled in the toss, took off for the end zone, and shed two would-be tacklers as he crossed the goal line.

Celek's toughness seems to be what has captured a growing fan base. During one catch-and-run Sunday, he dragged Williams 3 extra yards as he lunged for a first down.

"There's some times when I think it's dumb of me to stay up because I'm taking some extra hits," Celek said. "But again, that's my philosophy, and it's hard to change when that's the way you've been playing your whole life."