When will Eagles rookie Cam Jurgens be ready to replace Jason Kelce?

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When will Jurgens be ready to replace Kelce? originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

It’s one thing when one of us says Cam Jurgens reminds us of Jason Kelce.

But when Lane Johnson says it?

Then it carries some weight.

With Kelce limited these first two practices of training camp while recovering from a mild bout of COVID, Jurgens – the Eagles’ rookie 2nd-round pick – has taken all the center reps with the first offense.

It’s a glimpse into the future for whenever the 34-year-old Kelce retires.

“He says it’s going to be his last year,” Johnson said. “We’ll see about that.”

If this 12th season is indeed Kelce’s last, Jurgens will presumably take over at center a year from now.

But Johnson said the 22-year-old Jurgens is already ready.

“Super athletic, super smart,” Johnson said. “Stout’s pressing him in the meetings and he’s answering all the questions. Really trying to make him ready to go ASAP. I think he can go play right now.”

Stout, of course, is long-time offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, the best in the business.

Remember, Kelce didn’t make a Pro Bowl until Stoutland became his coach. Same with Brandon Brooks and Johnson as well. And Evan Mathis. Combined, they’ve now made 13.

Will Jurgens continue that lineage of Pro Bowl Eagles offensive linemen? It’s too early to say. But it’s rare to hear Johnson and Kelce raving about a young player like they’ve been raving about Jurgens.

“What you notice is exactly what you saw on tape,” Kelce said Friday. “He’s strong, he’s athletic, he’s physical, he’s a very athletic player. For the most part exactly what we thought we were getting. He’s a strong, athletic, fast kid.

“But he’s also (has) attention to detail. He’s locked in mentally. He’s got a great temperament. Since he’s been here this offseason, his approach has been great and I think we’re just going to continue to see him get better and improve. He’s got a very bright future ahead of him.”

Johnson had one criticism of Jurgens – he hasn’t brought his personal brand of beef jerky to the o-line meeting room yet.

“Haven’t gotten a chance to try his beef jerky yet," Johnson said. "Waiting for him to bring that to the room.

“Other than that ... he’s very quick. Reminds me of Kelce as far as quickness and intelligence. He’ll be a great player.”

That’s tremendous praise.

Howie Roseman had one prominent miss in the first round in 2011 with Fireman Danny, but he was the GM when the Eagles drafted Kelce, Johnson, Jordan Mailata, Isaac Seumalo, Landon Dickerson and now Jurgens.

Roseman has a tremendous o-line track record, and if he nailed the Jurgens pick, there’s a chance the Eagles could go 15 or even 20 years with just two starting centers.

Nobody wants to see Kelce retire. He’s a folk hero around here. It’s hard to imagine watching an Eagles game without No. 62 out there doing his thing.

But that time is coming, quite possibly next year. And if his heir apparent really is in place, it will make Kelce’s retirement a little easier to digest.

It’s a little too early to predict stardom for the former Nebraska Cornhusker, but he’s working with the best o-line coach in the business and a future Hall of Fame center mentoring him.

Along with tremendous natural tools and a terrific work ethic.

“Obviously a big part of what I want to do is help these young guys out,” Kelce said. “And Cam being a center, a guy that I see (has) a lot of similarities to my game, I’m going to try to help in any way I can to give him tricks of the trade or things I’ve learned or whatever.

"And we’re just going to continue to make each other better throughout camp, we’re going to continue to work, compete and try and get better as much as we can.”

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