Jason Kelce refused to head into the medical tent last week after injuring his arm despite grimacing in pain on the sideline. The All-Pro center eventually made his way into the locker room at halftime to undergo an X-ray, then miraculously trotted back out onto the field. Kelce missed four total snaps in that one and plans to make his 100th consecutive start this week.
It wasn’t pride or superstition for the 33-year-old Philly folk hero. No, Kelce thought it was a waste of time for the trainer to tell him what he already knew. His left elbow was out of whack, but far from broken. Kelce, who has logged 8,324 career snaps at center, came back out in the third quarter wearing a big brace. Point proved.
“I didn’t need to be evaluated. I knew what was wrong,” Kelce told reporters on Wednesday. “I knew what had happened to me, so what was the point of going into a tent for you to tell me what I already know, that was part of it. And then the other part of it was just being upset with the situation. Obviously, this is a big game and obviously, I don’t want to come out. I don’t want to miss time, there are guys counting on me, people counting on me.”
Once the X-ray came back negative, it was a no-brainer to tap undrafted rookie center Luke Juriga on the shoulder and reclaim his rightful spot. Kelce has undergone some gnarly injuries in his 10 years in the NFL, citing a 2014 sports hernia as the most taxing, but the player always knows his own body better than any doctor.
“If you can’t play you can’t play, and there’s nothing wrong with that,” Kelce said. “You’re trying to figure out if you can do this in a way that’s safe for you, and good for the team — and if that’s the case, then it’s not even a question, you just go out and do it.”
Doug Pederson got downright emotional when describing Kelce’s pain threshold, referring to the Super Bowl parade MVP as a leader on and off the field. He’s seen it time and time again out of the Ohio native, from assistant coach to head coach.
“I’ll tell you, this guy, I got so much respect for him as a football player on and off the football field,” the head coach said. “He’s somebody that does things right all the time and his game may not be perfect each week, but this guy, he practices, and plays hurt. He gives of himself for his teammates. He’s a great leader, not only in the offensive line room but I think on this football team.”
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Kelce Accepts Responsibility for Low Snaps
Doug Pederson raised eyebrows last week when he blamed Kelce for a disturbing trend of low snaps, particularly on plays involving Jalen Hurts. The All-Pro center looked out of sorts in Week 10 versus New York where he muffed at least three bad exchanges with both Hurts and starter Carson Wentz. Kelce admitted those low snaps were on him, adding that the Eagles worked on it at practice all week.
“It was really bad, a lot of low snaps,” Kelce said. “It was a really important game and we worked really hard this week and, all things considered, especially considering the conditions, the snaps were pretty good this past week.”
Kelce — arguably the best center in football, a three-time Pro Bowler and three-time first-team All-Pro — made sure to acknowledge Hurts and instructed people to not point the finger at the rookie.
“It’s not a fair assessment on Jalen considering that a lot of the fumbles have been at the very least not a good snap, if not a terrible snap,” Kelce said. “That’s definitely known by me, known by the team, and something we’re working on.”
Don’t Put All the Blame on Jason Peters
Jason Peters has been the designated whipping boy this week after Pro Football Focus credited him for giving up three sacks, three quarterback hits and seven pressures. He was also directly responsible for surrendering a safety to Browns pass rusher Olivier Vernon. The future Hall of Fame left tackle won’t be benched for Jordan Mailata, per head coach Doug Pederson, and there were plenty of positives from Peters’ game tape.
Kelce has been Peters’ long-time friend, mentor and offensive linemate. The Eagles’ fiery team leader cautioned against condemning Peters for everything that went wrong, calling him an “incredible teammate” and “incredible player.”
“I think there’s a lot of things going on right now, just like Carson [Wentz] takes a lot of criticism and blame that isn’t solely on his shoulders, I think the same thing can be said for Jason Peters,” Kelce said. “And I think, I don’t want to make excuses for the guy, there’s plenty of things you could say … I’ll go out there and battle with him any day of the week.”
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