Why Eagles’ Jason Kelce apologized to Cam Jurgens after decision to return
When Cam Jurgens heard the news that Jason Kelce was returning to the Eagles for the 2023 season, he reached out to his veteran teammate to congratulate him and to tell him he was pumped about the return.
Kelce had a very Kelce response.
Yeah, Im sorry Im coming back for another year, Kelce said.
Had Kelce retired, Jurgens would have slid into the center role for 2023 and probably beyond. After all, the Eagles drafted Jurgens in the second round out of Nebraska last year to be Kelces eventual replacement. But with the news that Kelce was returning for his 13th season, that plan has been put on hold.
And Jurgens is totally fine with that.
Im like, Dude, you owe me nothing, Jurgens said. Hes done so much for me already. Im pumped hes back. You cant have a better locker room guy, a team leader than that.
When Jurgens reached out to Kelce this offseason, he told him he was excited to be his teammate again, whether that meant playing behind him at center or next to him at guard. Obviously, Jurgens would like to be in the starting lineup. And after the departure of Isaac Seumalo in free agency, the right guard spot is vacant in Philly. Jurgens is getting the first crack at it.
So during OTAs and eventually during training camp Jurgens will be learning from Kelce but also learning how to play next to him.
When were doing combo blocks, he knows what its supposed to be like and feel like, Jurgens said. Big thing is just hes going to show me how hes going to hit the block and how he expects the presence of a guard right next to him. A lot of times, well go in walkthrough, fit it up and then well go and do the rep. If it feels right, then we can move on. If it doesnt feel good, were going to keep doing it until we get it right. I think thats super helpful in that aspect.
When reporters got a glimpse at an OTA practice last week, it was Jurgens lining up between Kelce and Lane Johnsons spot with the first team at right guard. The Eagles also used a third-round pick on Tyler Steen out of Alabama and still have Jack Driscoll and Sua Opeta on the roster. This is going to be a training camp competition but Jurgens has a year of experience in the NFL over Steen (even though Jurgens didnt play much as a rookie) and that should help.
Jurgens last year played just 35 offensive snaps because Kelce stayed healthy during the season. Theres no guarantee that happens again knock on wood which is why it was sensible that the Eagles made a move to replenish their depth.
Some players might have been threatened had they been in Kelces shoes last year. The Eagles clearly drafted the guy they want to replace him but the Eagles also asked for Kelces opinion. Kelce watched tape and came away extremely impressed by Jurgens and was willing to help him. The Eagles let Kelce help choose his replacement.
From early on in Jurgens career, Kelce was already a mentor. And that relationship is going strong in Year 2. At the OTA practice last week, Kelce was again seen giving some on-field instruction to the guy who will one day take his spot.
For Jurgens, Kelce is an invaluable resource.
I just try to be a sponge in that room, Jurgens said. And obviously you guys see everything that goes on during the field and what goes on during the game. But I think just the way he carries himself, how he talks to coaches, how he talks to young guys and old guys, its different because hes been around, hes a pro. He knows the game better than anybody.
Its cool getting to see his leadership aspect of that and if I can emulate that later on in my career and the sooner I can get to that point the better. Because he handles himself so well and people respect the hell out of him. Being able to see how he handles himself on and off the field, its pretty cool.
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