How Cam Jurgens worked to fend off sea barnacles while on IR

How Cam Jurgens worked to fend off sea barnacles while on IR originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Eagles right guard Cam Jurgens has spent the last five weeks on Injured Reserve with a foot injury. But if you were able to sneak a peek into the Eagles’ offensive line meeting room you definitely wouldn’t have known.

Jurgens on Thursday said offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland kept asking him questions in meetings over the last month as if Jurgens was still in the starting lineup … just to make sure he wasn’t slacking.

As Jurgens explained all this in the locker room, left tackle Jordan Mailata walked by and overheard the conversation.

“That’s true. I can attest to that,” Mailata said. “He gets questioned more than the guys who are playing. I’m serious. [Stoutland] said, ‘I can’t let you be collecting sea barnacles, Cam.’”

No sea barnacles.

“No sea barnacles,” Jurgens agreed.

The good news for Jurgens is that when he suffered a foot injury back on Oct. 1, his season wasn’t completely sunk.

The 24-year-old starting right guard knew he would be able to return this year and he’ll get that chance on Monday Night Football against the reigning Super Bowl champion Chiefs. The Eagles activated Jurgens’ practice window before the Cowboys game but elected to give him a couple extra weeks to heal.

But with the Super Bowl rematch on deck, it appears that Jurgens is ready to return. He was working with the first-team offensive line between Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson as the Eagles took the field for their first practice of the week on Thursday.

“Just pumped to go out there and practice and hit some people,” Jurgens said. “It’s fun.”

Knowing that his injury wasn’t a season-ender was a big boost for Jurgens. He mentioned on Thursday that this injury wasn’t nearly as bad as some others he’s had in his football career or as bad as injuries around the NFL. In his case, Jurgens pointed to an ankle injury he had in high school.

“There are season-ending injuries that are a lot worse,” Jurgens said. “Injuries are all about perspective. Things can always be worse. This isn’t the worst thing.”

The Eagles drafted Jurgens with the 51st overall pick out of Nebraska in the 2022 draft as the eventual replacement for Kelce at center. After what was basically a redshirt year as a rookie, the Eagles put Jurgens at right guard this spring after Kelce decided to return and Isaac Seumalo left in free agency.

There were questions about how Jurgens would transition from center to guard but he certainly looked the part in the first four games of the season. That’s one of the reasons why it did sting a bit when he went down.

Jurgens was really starting to feel himself get into a rhythm.

“I thought every single game I got a little bit better and I feel like I was seeing improvements,” he said. “I was happy with how I was progressing. That’s what made me feel happy about it, that every game was a little bit better.”

It’s not that Sua Opeta or Tyler Steen were bad during the five-game stretch when Jurgens was out, but Jurgens is a starter for a reason. He was very solid in the first month of the season.

And it really looked like Jurgens was building a strong rapport playing next to Kelce and Johnson, two veterans who have been with the Eagles for over a decade.

Jurgens felt that on-field chemistry building with his linemates too.

“A lot of stuff happens quickly, a lot of stuff happens on the fly. Communication happens in a second, you have to make adjustments,” he said. “When you get more time working with those guys, it just happens more naturally where you don’t have to say as many words and you just go out and play without thinking. Just reacting. That’s a big thing you want to work on.”

While Jurgens talked to reporters before the Eagles’ first practice of the week, it seems very obvious that, barring a setback, he’ll return to action on Monday night.

And he’ll get to do it in Kansas City, which is just about a 3-hour drive from his hometown in Nebraska. It’s as close as Jurgens will get to a homecoming game in the NFL and he expects to have a bunch of family members and friends in the stands on Monday night at Arrowhead Stadium.

“It’s so close to Nebraska that a lot of them are Chiefs fans,” Jurgens said. “I’m like, ‘Well, I ain’t going to talk to you after the game if you’re wearing the freaking red.’”

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