Aug 22, 2011, 8:49 AM EDT
While most of the Bird watching world was expecting to see change in the air after last Thursday’s thrashing at the hands of the Steelers, they were probably looking in the wrong skies. While the linebackers will remain the same for now, the offensive line will have a new look when the Browns visit the Linc this week.
Over the weekend CSN’s Reuben reports that Frank Eagles’ sixth round pick Jason Kelce has been taking all of the first team snaps at center in practice this week in anticipation of making his first start against Cleveland–a change that could mark the end of Jamaal Jackson’s run as the club’s man in the middle.
After flirting with the idea during training camp, at times splitting time with the ones between Kelce and Jackson, the coaches must really like what they see out of the rookie, and think it’s time for a test run.
Marty Mornhinweg told reporters on Sunday the rookie “earned” the opportunity, while the Inquirer’s Tim Rohan wrote two weeks ago Kelce is precisely the kind of player offensive line coach Howard Mudd prefers–“an athletic brick wall with quick feet.”
The job isn’t officially Kelce’s just yet, but it sure sounds as though it may be his to lose, which is something of a surprise. Even with all the changes at right tackle so far, the offensive line has been steady through two preseason games. At least, the performance at center wasn’t something that stood out, which isn’t a bad thing.
Meanwhile, it’s fair to speculate what would happen to Jackson, who has been the starting center since taking over for Hank Fraley in 2005. After Jackson tore his ACL down the stretch in ’09, he managed to return for opening day last year, only to sustain a torn triceps, once again ending his season.
With the Eagles in “win now” mode, it might make sense to keep Jackson, but he’s set to make $1.5 million. He has years remaining on his contract though (signed through 2013), and might fetch a mid-round pick in a trade. Plus, it’s not as if the Eagles have nobody else who could fill in. Mike McGlynn was, let’s go with capable, in 15 starts last year.
Kelce winning the job would be one heck of an upset, but not necessarily a bad move. He comes into the position with more of a pedigree than either of the last two regulars, both of whom were undrafted free agents. And let’s face it, the change will happen sooner or later. Jackson is 31, and suddenly very injury prone.
The Eagles don’t have much time remaining to make a decision. The third game is the biggest tune-up of the preseason, and Andy Reid historically holds the majority of his key players out of the final scrimmage. It sure looks like it’s going to be Kelce with any sort of decent showing on Thursday.
>> Eagles to test rookie Kelce in starting center role [CSN]
>> Kelce just the kind of lineman Mudd likes [Inquirer]
>> Eagles: Kelce has ‘earned’ shot at center [BirdS' Eye View]
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