One of the surprise stories at training camp for the Eagles has been the swift development of center Jason Kelce, a sixth-round pick by the Eagles in this year's draft.
Listed as the lightest offensive lineman on the squad, Kelce makes up what he lacks in size with strength and pure athleticism. As a result, he's been a perfect match for legendary offensive line coach Howard Mudd.
"He's very demanding," Kelce said. "He's a perfectionist. He doesn't tolerate poor technique. He doesn't tolerate mistakes, so when you have a very demanding coach if you don't perform well you're going to get chewed out every single play. It really makes you lock in and focus because you want to do it the right way every time."
Lucky for Kelce, he was thrown into what he considers to be a "great situation," as he is learning from veterans Jamaal Jackson and Mike McGlynn, in addition to Mudd.
Kelce has been learning and playing so well that he's been taking a solid portion of the reps with the first-team offense. In fact, even Kelce didn't expect to run with the 'ones' as much as he has.
"I'm surprised that I was thrown into the mix as soon as I was, but I'm taking it head on," Kelce said.
That's not to say that Kelce's development hasn't come without a few bumps in the road. The rookie center admits to having experienced the difficulty of adjusting to the NFL that has affected every rookie who was unable to study his playbook and work with coaches during the NFL lockout.
"It's definitely a lot faster (compared to college)," Kelce said. "Let's put it that way, especially with the work stoppage and everything, not being able to learn the plays.
"It's been a very, very aggressive learning curve for the first couple of practices so just getting used to the speed of the game, the calls, the cadence, everything - it's been pretty mind-boggling for the first few practices."
For Kelce, his training will be put to the test in the first preseason game of the year on Thursday night against the Baltimore Ravens.
"We'll be ready," Kelce said. "We'll be ready as much as we can be."
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